Terri Lowdon was involved in the law as a paralegal well before law school.
She has worked at the law firm of Mark H. Wissehr in northwest Missouri since 1985. Delaying her law degree until the early 1990s so she could raise her daughters, Lowdon has now spent well over three decades with the same firm.
“I like helping people,” she said. “I like being in contact with people, meeting lots of different kinds of people. I like the mental challenge of the law.”
A general practitioner who handles a wide variety of matters, the political science graduate who minored in journalism ultimately rose to become president of the St. Joseph Bar Association. Lowdon considers it a special honor that she was nominated for the position by Grace Day, the first attorney she ever tried a case against.
Today, the 61-year-old continues to have a love of assisting others as a general practitioner.
“And it is usually at a very difficult time for them,” she said. “That’s true in criminal law. That’s true in family law and most things that we do.”
She said that defending those accused in a crime is some of her most vital work. She’s also become president of the St. Joseph Bar Association, and was a 2017 nominee for the YWCA Women of Excellence Award for Women in the Workplace.
“I believe that criminal defense attorneys are an integral part of freedom in America,” said Lowdon. “We cannot have true liberty without the overreach of government or a police state if we didn’t have defense attorneys. Protecting the rights that are so important in our Constitution would mean nothing without criminal defense attorneys.”
Lowdon’s work isn’t limited to the courtroom. She’s also held memberships on both the Human Rights Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment for the City of St. Joseph.
She also counts it as a proud achievement that she’s had the opportunity to shape the careers of others, including the interns she’s helped to mentor, some of whom are now practicing attorneys themselves.
Still, it is really all about the clients.
“I’ve had people that I’ve represented on a criminal case that I saw down the road and they were happy to come up and tell me how their life had changed and what good things they were doing,” she said. “You always want to hear that stuff.”
It makes it special to know she’s had an impact on someone’s life in a truly meaningful way.
“Those are the things that make you say, ‘okay, it is worth it,’” said Lowdon. “‘It is worth all the gray hairs I have.’”