Big family means big experience for new Fountain City lawyer

Shannon CareyFountain City

Family practice attorney Dawn Elaine Bowie moved her practice to Fountain City this month, and she brings with her a family experience that extends well beyond law school.

You see, if you count foster siblings Bowie has just under 200 brothers and sisters. Her parents adopted six children, including Bowie, and had one biological child. And over the years, they fostered more than 187 children.

“They decided that their gift was being parents,” Bowie said. “It was constantly chaotic and unpredictable, which I hated as a child growing up, but it really was a good thing for me because it forced me to be flexible. I think it’s made me a better person.”

That big family moved all over, from California to New Jersey to Michigan to Florida. Bowie went to college near Ooltewah, Tennessee, then moved to the Washington, D.C., area where she met her first husband. But she promised herself that she’d come back to Tennessee one day.

“I married him and it was not a wonderful relationship,” she said. “We were married for six years, and three of those years were the divorce. I remarried, and my second husband was a delightful guy who volunteered to adopt my kids, and he did.”

She went back to school at University of Maryland, where she earned her second bachelor’s degree and a master’s in administration. She worked for six years as a paralegal until a Maryland county attorney saw her make a presentation before the local Bar Association. He put her in touch with the University of Baltimore law school admissions committee, “where I was honored to attend,” she said.

She passed the Maryland Bar Exam in 2001 and started practice in 2002. During that time, she found she preferred practicing in the rural areas outside Washington, D.C.

“I really fell in love with the rural communities in Maryland,” she said. “It’s a Southern state everywhere except right near D.C.”

Several years ago, Bowie moved her practice to Sevierville, but as time passed she decided to come to Knoxville. She has a home in Seymour now and is looking to buy a home in North Knoxville soon. She moved her office to the 640 Building at the beginning of June, offices she shares with Jack Bowers although theirs is not a formal association.

“He’s the kind of lawyer I’ve always admired, silver-haired and courteous,” she said. “And he knows about many other kinds of law that I’m not familiar with.”

Bowie said she has a winning track record in what she calls “complex family litigation.” She’s received awards in Maryland for her work, and she has published articles about family law. She specializes in divorces, adoptions and conservatorships.

“I like puzzles,” she said. “I like solving really hard problems. I like being challenged. Especially in family law, there’s so much emotion and so many things going on.”

Bowie said she is glad she moved to Tennessee, and Knoxville in particular.

“Knoxville has all the conveniences I like, but it feels like a small town, and people treat each other like it’s a small town,” she said. “And I’ve found that the law in Tennessee blows me away. It’s so beautifully written. It’s in clear language, carefully done and more courteous. There’s kind of an expectation that you will be nice to one another, and the courts enforce that, and I like that.”

To find out more about Bowie and her law practice, visit

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