JAMIE LOWE MET ME IN THE FRONT LOBBY of the Lee County Justice Center. He was dressed in a white dress shirt, black sweater vest and sports coat. He escorted me to his office and handed a business card to me: Lowe’s Mediation.
Lowe is a mediator for the family courts of Lee County. He meets with parents going through divorce to help them navigate the process, as well as work out visitation rights and other complexities of legally separating. There is nothing new about mediators, but what makes Jamie Lowe unique is that he is only 20 years old.
While a student at Opelika High School (OHS), Lowe knew health occupation students did internships with local physicians and at East Alabama Medical Center. But Lowe wasn’t interested in the health field, so he asked if he could get a law-related internship. Once approved, he contacted the family court office, and The Honorable Judge Mike Fellows ’94 agreed to let Lowe work in his office. Initially, Lowe observed court proceedings, sat in on referee meetings and researched a few minor case laws.
“I started out just doing administrative things and earned my way into more responsibility,” Lowe said. “I did some research and then started helping manage the caseload for child-support cases.”
Lowe began shadowing a local attorney in mediation proceedings and was intrigued by the process.
“I am the child of divorced parents, so I was especially interested in how all that worked and how my life experience might benefit me in that role,” Lowe said. “The more I observed, the more interested I got, and I thought, ‘I could do that.’”
So, Lowe took a class and earned his certification as a mediator. At 18 years old.
I asked Fellows how a 20-year-old kid becomes a mediator in the courts.
“He has no idea he is a 20-year-old kid,” Fellows said. “He doesn’t think the way most 20-year-olds think. He is mature beyond his years. He doesn’t show anger or frustration. There have been times when clients have been rude, but Jamie doesn’t let that get to him. He has a very gentle disposition that is very calming during a stressful time for parents.”
Lowe doesn’t see his young age as a barrier, but more of a motivator. He believes his youth offers a different perspective.
“I’ve had a few ‘reactions,’ but once things get going, I think both sides see that I really do know what I’m doing and appreciate my demeanor,” Lowe said. “I let them vent, say whatever they want to say and once they have gotten all that out of their system, I try to calmly diffuse the anger and help them find some middle ground.”
Parents are separated into different rooms, and Lowe moves from one to the other to hear both sides of the story. He tries to determine what is exaggerated, what is totally untrue and where the actual truth lies.
“Once, there was a husband who went on and on about how he mowed his wife’s grass and took care of her lawn and how she didn’t appreciate his kindness,” Lowe said. “Then, I heard her side and it turns out, what he was doing was mowing down her roses; he left that part out.”
In addition to mediating five days a week, Lowe is also taking 15 credit hours at Auburn University, teaching an anti-shoplifting class to young offenders and tutoring high school and college students in biology, Spanish, math and calculus. He also attends every Opelika City Council meeting and volunteers in the community.
At Auburn, he is a student in the College of Liberal Arts, double-majoring in political science with plans to attend law school to study family law. He also is majoring in Asian studies because of an incident that happened when he was in high school.
During his junior year at OHS, Lowe was part of a group that tested a new school software program. He took an online class in Mandarin Chinese, but didn’t particularly enjoy it, so he did not continue. But the course remained on his high school transcript.
A year later, on an elevator on his way to an interview for a national scholarship, a man began talking to Lowe in a foreign language, but all Lowe heard was noise. When he sat down, there was the man on the panel of judges, introduced as a nuclear researcher.
“It was then that it occurred to me, he had been speaking to me in Mandarin,” Lowe said. “I was embarrassed that I didn’t recognize it and hadn’t been able to carry on a conversation with him, so I decided to pursue Mandarin until I could speak it fluently.”
It is that attitude of never seeing dead ends, his unwavering determination and the goals he has set for himself that keep Lowe focused – and busy.
“I love the feeling of accomplishment, which far outweighs fatigue,” Lowe said. “I have dreams and I don’t let go of them very easily.”