Passion is nine tenths of the law

Public Sector Commission

Twelve years ago an uncertain Bullsbrook District High School student with no specific ambitions or plans was urged by her VET coordinator to stay at school.

The decision to heed that advice ultimately led to a law degree.

Lured by the promise of earning some money while studying, Stacey Byrne embarked upon the school-based trainee program at the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) in the Information Services Branch while studying towards a Certificate II in Business and completing her Year 11 and 12 studies.

Today, after more than a decade of study, work and coffee, Stacey is the justifiably proud holder of a law degree from Murdoch University.

Having undertaken administrative and communications positions with the Office of the Commissioner since 2008, Stacey now applies her legal skills to her role as an Assessment Officer in the Conduct and Standards team with the Public Sector Commission.

Equipped nine years ago with a Certificate II in Business, the initial inspiration to pursue a career in law was sparked by the most unlikely of sources.

‘I was completing the obligatory AEDM (Accountable and Ethical Decision Making) course when I started at DPC and some of the case studies cited examples of white collar crime and corruption,’ Stacey said.

‘This stirred my interest in law and after some research I began a Diploma of Business (Legal Studies) before taking on a Bachelor of Laws in 2011.’

Stacey’s progression has encompassed high school WACE studies, VET business qualifications, university studies, a school-based traineeship, full-time, part-time and leave without pay in the workplace and an assortment of holiday jobs.

‘I have been so lucky to be able to work hours that I can fit around my study—there are not many workplaces that offer the all-important flexibility to change your work hours every six months to attend classes,’ Stacey said.

The pathway from school-based trainee to law graduate has been rewarding but there were times when the workload and pressure felt overwhelming.

‘A lot of weekend time and socialising has been sacrificed over the years and there were periods when my study and workload seemed too daunting, especially during times of personal or family difficulties,’ Stacey said.

‘There was actually one year where I considered doing something different but I realised this was a silly idea and with the application of dedication and persistence—and caffeine—I pushed through.’

The coffee machine won’t be gathering dust just yet.

Stacey is now completing her Practical Legal Training (PLT) at the College of Law WA, which she said is proving helpful in her day-to-day work life. Completion of a PLT program is the second essential step to being admitted as a lawyer, after attainment of a law degree.

Stacey’s journey has earned the praise of the Commissioner Mal Wauchope.

‘The Commission has initiatives in place to encourage young people to develop rewarding public sector careers, and we are particularly excited to welcome talented staff of the calibre of Stacey, whose dedication, passion and intellect augurs well for her—and our—future,’ the Commissioner said.