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A Lone Star Legal Legend

April 2014

Forrest Bowers

[left to right] Haltom & Doan’s Jennifer Doan, Forrest Bowers, and Christian Smith & Jewell’s James W. Christian.

Just a few months after his induction as a West Texas Legal Legend by Texas Tech Law, Forrest Bowers was the twelfth Texas Legal Legend named by the State Bar of Texas. The Bowers family, along with nearly 100 Texas Tech Law students, faculty, and staff, gathered in the Lanier Auditorium for his induction ceremony on April 1.

A native of Dunn, Texas, Bowers graduated from The University of Texas School of Law in 1951. He served as a P-51 fighter pilot during World War II, worked as an assistant district attorney for Lubbock County, and later opened The Bowers Law Office with his son, Fred.

Now retired, Bowers is celebrated for his willingness to defend those who could not defend themselves.

After a welcome from Dean Darby Dickerson, James W. Christian of Christian Smith & Jewell outlined the history of the State Bar of Texas Legal Legend series. The series was created in 2008–2009 by Past State Bar of Texas President Harper Estes to change negative perceptions about lawyers in celebrating those who set the benchmark. Christian lauded Bowers for personifying this higher standard, not only through his professional accomplishments but also through his willingness to make a difference, not just a living.

“Forrest Bowers has integrity, he has honesty, and he knows how to defend those who can’t defend themselves,” Christian said. “The rule of law is key to our society, as are the trial lawyers like Mr. Bowers who defend it.”

Fred Bowers followed Christian at the podium with a heartfelt testimonial of his father’s role in progressing the nation’s justice system.

“This is a great day because it is the day we honor my hero,” Bowers said. “A big part of America’s story is our justice system, and my dad is a big part of that system.”

Before formally inducting Bowers as a Texas Legal Legend, Jennifer Doan of Haltom & Doan spoke of his ability to relate to the jury and use the courtroom as an advocate for his clients. “I can see why his son, Fred, describes him as a modern day Atticus Finch,” said Doan. “He believed in the cases he tried, he was usually the first person that had ever stood up for his client, and he commanded the courtroom with respect.”

After a standing ovation, Bowers humbly accepted his award.

“When I first heard of this event, quite naturally I began to ruminate over the years that I had practiced law and about the tidal wave of change,” Bowers said. While some of those changes are positive, such as the increasing number of practicing attorneys who are female, others have been detrimental. Bowers was particularly concerned by recent regulations he believes have effectively closed the courthouse door to trial lawyers.

He closed with a poignant quote from Alexis de Tocqueville on the role of trial by jury in America: “The jury instills in all classes a respect for judicial decisions and the idea of law. Remove those two things and love of independence becomes a destructive passion.”

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