In his office on the first floor of the Lee County Justice Center, 19-year-old Jamie Lowe drew three overlapping circles to illustrate a theory shared with him by Circuit Judge Mark Fellows for finding the “sweet spot.”
“The key is to find something profitable, something you love doing and something you can give time to,” Lowe said, explaining that once someone finds the “sweet spot” between the three, that they’ve found something “worth pursuing.”
As a student at Opelika High School, the school offered the option to participate in a health occupation program where students could intern at the hospital and various clinics around the city. While he didn’t have any interest in health, he reached out to Judge Fellows’ judicial assistant to ask if he could intern in his office.
Although he usually took on college interns, Judge Fellows said he was impressed with Lowe’s maturity and genuine interest in the discipline and accepted Lowe as an intern. Lowe interned in the judge’s office for three semesters, sitting in on cases involving child support and custody agreements, familial disputes and divorces.
“If you don’t know what you’re about to get into, really it’s surprising,” he said. “I think people could be surprised at how difficult, tiring and aggressive the litigation process actually is.”
Divorce litigation involves each party getting a lawyer and going through a hearing or trial, which Lowe says can be traumatic, “especially if there are children involved.”
Divorce mediation presents a more accommodating option where the parties are interviewed separately to voice their concerns and attempt to come to a reconciliation incorporating those concerns.
Mediation isn’t any less stressful than litigation, but is considerably cheaper and makes it easier for both parties to communicate, Lowe said.
In addition to sitting in on divorce proceedings in the courtroom, as an intern Lowe met attorneys Thomas “Pep” Melton and Jennifer Chambliss, who also handle a significant number of divorce mediations in their work.
In shadowing them and seeing the mediation process from start to finish, he found his “sweet spot.”
According to Lowe, state law is written in a way that says anyone is able to mediate, but he wanted to go through the formal training. After completing a seminar course with the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution, he walked away a certified mediator.
“The certification provided me the ability to do other types of mediation, but this is where I’m most comfortable,” he said. “And I can stand to do the most [good] because people are in a really tender place when they’re going through a divorce.”
Having already established his career at 19, you would think that Lowe would be content where he is, but he’s only getting started.
By working 29 hours a week at the Lee County Justice Center, he’s able to attend Auburn University as a full-time double major in political science and psychology. To further his commitment to family law, law school is also on the horizon, as are some political aspirations.
Family friend and Opelika city councilwoman Patsy Jones said that Lowe has always shown interest in government.
“Seeing a young man at this age who is thinking objectively about making a difference, has been very appealing to me,” Jones said, adding that she has tried to include him in different things going on in the city.
His profession and career accomplishments thus far aside, at the end of the day, Lowe is still a young man crossing the threshold of adulthood. In his free time he likes to hang out with his friends, he loves his dog and can’t resist a good book.
With a movie pass membership, he admits that he goes to the movies “more than the regular person should,” and as an Auburn University student, game days are always a big deal.
“I was blessed with the fact that I started this job well earlier than I probably should have, and I’ve loved every second of it,” he said. “I’m blessed to have found a major that I enjoy and I love all my classes, so it makes it so much easier when you find something that you love doing.
"It doesn’t feel like you’re putting in any hours at all.”