In Melbourne, Ruth worked as a schoolteacher, and Jacques was a research fellow in the history department of the University of Melbourne. Louise Adler attended Elwood Primary School, the Elsternwick campus of Methodist Ladies" College, and finally Mount Scopus Memorial College. Adler graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University of Reading, and a Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy from Columbia University, studying under Edward Said.
From 1988 to 1989 she was editor of the Australian Book Review.
She has also worked as the Publisher at Reed Books, Arts and Entertainment Editor for The Age, Deputy Director (Academic & Research) at the Victorian College of the Arts and Chief Executive Officer and Publisher of Melbourne University Publishing. She is Chairperson of the board of Methodist Ladies" College in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne.
In 2012, the MLC board, that Adler chaired, controversially terminated the employment of then principal of the college, Rosa Storelli. She has been married to the actor and comedian Max Gillies since 1981, and they have two adult children.
Adler has also served on several boards, including as a member of the Monash University council, director on the Melbourne International Arts Festival board and director on the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art board.