By Morgan Bryce
Looking admiringly at a bookshelf containing a biography of his U.S. presidential hero Lyndon B. Johnson, 19-year-old Opelika native and Auburn University junior Jamie Lowe reflects on what he has achieved during his short lifetime.
Graduating from high school last May, Lowe is already two classes ahead of most of his peers, double majoring in psychology and political science. In addition to his loaded college schedule, he works as a judicial clerk in Lee County Family Court Judge Mike Fellows’ office and offers separate divorce mediation services.
“I try not to go into comparisons with what people my age would or wouldn’t be doing. The way I see it, anybody could do what I’m doing; the only difference between me and another person is that I want to do this,” Lowe said.
Lowe’s lifelong, innate curiosity, paired with a positive interaction with civil rights attorney and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson, guided him to choosing a career path in the legal field.
As a student at Opelika High School three years ago, Lowe took advantage of a program offered through his institution to gain real-world working experience and contacted Judge Fellows’ then judicial assistant about the possibility of interning in their office.
Though internships were normally limited to college students, Fellows admired Lowe so much that he extended him an offer to intern, an internship that lasted for three semesters and turned into a part-time job.
Much of Lowe’s internship was spent in Fellows’ court hearings, observing cases involving child custody or support and divorces. These experiences in a family law court persuaded him to shift his scope of desired focus away from civil rights.
“People that come before our courts are going through the worst times of their lives, whether it’s a divorce case or child custody situation. Through family and juvenile law, I saw an area of the law that I could do great and positive things to institute change, equal or even greater (than civil rights),” Lowe said.
Another rewarding aspect of family court law is seeing divorcing parents agree to work together to provide a better, brighter future for their children, according to Lowe.
Because of the way Alabama’s state law is written, a person with or without legal education is allowed to mediate, which helped Lowe get such a young start in the field. However, Lowe has formal certification and training through a seminar taught at Montgomery’s Alabama Center for Dispute Resolutions.
With the necessary confidentiality and separation from Fellows’ court that comes with running a mediation service, Lowe said that he is often pressed to consult with others or conduct his own research to find the correct answer when a question arises.
“I learn something new every day. No matter how much knowledge you possess, there’s no cookie-cutter (nature) to anything because every case is so vastly different,” Lowe said.
Currently, Lowe said he has not decided where will he attend law school, but enjoys living, studying and working in the area he calls home and where many of his friends and family live. His mother Shonta is a guidance counselor at Opelika High School, and his stepfather Thomas is an attendancy officer for Opelika City Schools.
In addition to his planned career within the legal world, Lowe enjoys politics, whether it be at the local, state or national levels. He helped organize the nonpartisan, grassroots “Spirit of Democracy” group at OHS and was an active volunteer with Doug Jones’s campaign for the East Alabama region and Opelika Ward 1 Councilwoman Patsy Jones’s run for the Alabama House of Representatives’ District 83 seat last year. Wherever he lands after law school, Lowe said he plans to pursue any number of opportunities available in local politics and give back to that respective community.
When asked about his impact on area youth, particularly within the African American community, Lowe said he wants to be viewed as someone who does things the right way in all aspects of his personal and professional life.
“Everything I do, I try to do it in such a way that somebody will be proud of it. I try to hold myself in a way that if someone were doing what I was doing, I would say that it would be the right thing to do,” Lowe said.
In his limited spare time, Lowe said he is currently binging HBO’s Game of Thrones series. He also enjoys spending time with friends and enjoys reading books pertaining to history or politics.