Victoria Legal Aid's debt has tripled in the last year, despite cuts to services to save money.
The organisation's annual report shows the previous $3 million deficit has blown out to $9.3 million.
The managing director of Victoria Legal Aid, Bevan Warner, says savings stemming from changes to its funding guidelines will not flow until next year because it still has to pay old grants.
Mr Warner says there will always be unmet demand.
"We have to continue to prioritise the most vulnerable people," he said.
"That's what we did with our guidelines changes and involve deprioritising or putting less emphasis for instance, on people who are coming before courts with simple traffic offences and putting more emphasis on people who have more problems."
The organisation has been criticised for spending money on costly appeals for killers.
But Mr Warner says swifter justice has come at less cost since the appeal guidelines changed.
"The impact of those changes has resulted in far fewer appeals being lodged, fewer sentences being contested and it has resulted in less trauma for victims and their families as they've had to wait for the appeal process to runs its course," he said.
"Indeed, the appeals have been dealt with by the court in about half the time."