At the end of a demanding workday, Senior Dispute Resolution Official, Tammy Barnard likes nothing more than to kick back and watch an episode of the hit television series, Law & Order. “I watch them on repeat every evening, they never get old,” she declares. “As a teenager, I always enjoyed movies and series that involved courtroom drama, and I suppose this is where my passion for law comes from.”

Interestingly, Tammy has more in common with the award-winning TV crime franchise than she realises. NBC wasn’t the first – or even the second – network that Law & Order’s creators pitched to. It was a hard slog to get it picked up in the first place. The show’s first episode was originally shot in 1988, with CBS as the intended airing network. Fox also turned it down before NBC was approached. Even then, nothing ran smoothly. Ongoing technical and audio issues plagued the pilot episode, and the show was eventually given the green light a full two years after it was pitched. Tammy certainly has the same staying power as Dick Wolf and his fellow creators. She says that her biggest accomplishment to date was obtaining her master’s degree in law and being admitted as an attorney of the High Court. “It definitely took a lot of blood, sweat and many tears,” she admits. “But I kept looking to the example that my mom set for me and my sister. She is the hardest working person I know. She often says to us, ‘hard work never killed anyone!’”

At University, in her final year of her LLB degree, Tammy says a labour law module really stood out for her, and so it made sense for her to pursue labour as a speciality. “It became my passion,” she says. She brought that passion to CEO in 2017, after many years of searching for an organisation that specialises in labour law. “What I enjoy most about working for CEO is that I learn something new about the law every day, which keeps me on my toes. The environment at CEO is young, energetic, and super-fast paced, which is a match for my personality.” Tammy’s colleagues agree that she is a perfect fit for the team, as a strong, energetic, charismatic, and humorous person.

Tammy says that CEO plays a significant role in being a voice for employers. “The difference between CEO and most other employers’ organisations is that we represent a diverse group of employers, from the security sector to the food industry to construction, to name a few.” This trade diversity requires Tammy and her fellow Dispute Resolution Officials to constantly stay abreast of the ever-changing main agreements and sectoral determinations across a variety of different sectors. “This sets us apart from the rest.”

Law & Order stories are always based on very real court cases and life events. They resonate with audiences because we can all identify with the circumstances, characters and emotions in some way. Drama and intrigue affect the work of Tammy and her colleagues. Covid-19 and its long-term effects are a significant and long-term threat to employers. “We are seeing so many small businesses close their doors permanently as a result of the impact of lockdowns and the lack of funding and assistance for employers, which is very sad,” says Tammy. “So, we will stay dedicated to helping our members solve the challenges they face”. That’s true commitment, Olivia Benson-style.

Tammy’s vision of her future is to start a family and go on many exciting travel adventures with her husband. “I enjoy travelling so much. There are so many countries on my bucket list I still need to see and experience.” But Tammy has a more pressing and urgent case to solve for now: She wants to improve her cooking skills. “Living a fast-paced, busy life, generally leads to quick dinners, so I would like to take time out to improve my culinary skills.” One suspects she’ll close that case easily…

“Dun Dun!!”