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James R. Dowd was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City, graduating in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He then attended St. Mary’s University Law School where he obtained his Juris Doctorate in 1977.
Upon completing his education, Judge Dowd went into private practice for a year before being elected magistrate judge for the City of St. Louis at the young age of 27. During his 23-year tenure on the bench, he added quite a few other titles to his name. Judge Dowd became the presiding judge of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, then a judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District, and eventually became the chief judge of that court. He also served on occasion at the Missouri Supreme Court by invitation of the chief justice. However, his proudest achievement during his time in the courts was the establishment of the Drug Court of the City of St. Louis, which has been tremendously successful in lowering the recidivism rate for drug offenders in St. Louis.
After leaving the judicial system, Judge Dowd worked with Anheuser-Busch before eventually founding his own practice. His most well-known accomplishment during this time was helping to secure one of the largest collectible jury verdicts in the history of Missouri: over $358 million for children poisoned by the Herculaneum-based lead smelter.
Judge Dowd joined OnderLaw in 2017 in an “of counsel” capacity, meaning that he serves as a consultant on many important cases typically centered around defective product liability and environmental issues.