Thomas Stevens was educated in the Queensland State School system during the nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties. Being readily distracted by the revolutionary atmosphere of the epoch, and exposed to terrifying political developments during the Cold War, as well as the astonishing international music scene, he dropped out of school a month after his sixteenth birthday. He wisely abstained from indulging in political activism, despite the exploits of his immediate family: They were doing enough! Instead, he plunged headlong into a career as a musician (guitar, bass and keyboards) with a popular rock band that had been formed with school friends a couple of years previously. The band would tour extensively on Australia’s eastern seaboard. A career highlight was performing at Melbourne’s Festival Hall on the same bill with The Four Tops from Motown (Detroit), and the very last gig of the legendary Doug Parkinson in Focus.
In 1970, a dispute occurred between recording companies and broadcasters, who refused the demand made by the copyright owners that they pay royalties, even though the broadcasts were actually free promotion for the record companies’ releases. This led to the band’s records being removed from playlists Australia wide. Other Australian recording artists fared no better. This was Tom’s introduction to the wonderment of copyright law. The same year The Beatles disbanded. Bewildered and despondent, Tom decided to reinvent himself: He got a haircut and real job, though temporary, working for The Irish Export Board, undertaking market research for an upcoming trade mission to Australia. This stroke of luck changed his life. At the conclusion of the trade mission his boss, Kevin Nelligan, recommended him to the South African Trade Commission at 622 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. For several years he undertook market research for the Trade Commission and on occasion visited the South African Embassy in Canberra. The diplomats, visiting businessmen and colleagues assumed Tom was university educated. In truth, he had come a long way from being a painfully shy youth to a grown man of twenty-one who oozed self-confidence almost to the point of being insufferable: More front than Myer, as the saying goes. Tom was subsequently employed by Myer Southern Stores Limited as a menswear fashion buyer, a job which continued during his first year at university: He was a part time student for that year only.
In 1972 Tom enrolled in evening classes at University High School, Parkville; and after gaining his Higher School Certificate (with results which amazed everyone, particularly his parents), he was offered a place in the prestigious Melbourne University Law School. He graduated in 1979. He has practised law continuously since 1980. In 1986 he became a partner in Melbourne law firm Weigall & Crowther, one of the numerous firms which merged to become, eventually, Norton Rose Fulbright. Tom started his own firm in Cairns in 1988, his place of birth, though his parents, having escaped from Sydney in scandalous circumstances in the late forties, were resident in Cairns for only a short time. They were either hiding or on the run. Tom lived with his parents in Brisbane from 1953 to 1967 in the classic ‘nuclear family’: Mum, Dad and the kids: Tom and sisters Susan and Judith, who never met a single grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin, despite the fact both parents came from large families.