When I first returned to New Zealand I became somewhat grumpy about the legal aid system, because of the need to fill out a large amount of paper to become a lawyer who could do work on legal aid. My mood was not improved when I was told that I was a provider, which is a jargon word commonly used by the government services. I thought I was a lawyer but have been downgraded to a provider.
However, I have since become more impressed with the Legal Services Agency, who appeared to be very much on the ball particularly with more complex civil litigation matters. The payment turnaround is also much more efficient, and they appear to be more proactive in collecting contributions from legal aid users.
There has been some criticism from other lawyers. For me, at first, the jury was out. On the whole though, after or experience with the new system, I think it works better.