Judge James T. Lowell founded the most respected law firm in Oakdale—Lowell, Barnes, and Lowell. Known as “the Judge” by nearly everyone in town, he was a refined man of very simple tastes. The esteemed judge could easily be described as “the iron hand in the velvet glove.” Though he adored his late wife, Alice, his first love was the law. Judge Lowell instilled this love into his son, James, Jr. Though everyone in town called the grown James “Jim”, the judge saw James as an extension of himself and continually referred to him by his full name. James had married Claire English, an old friend of the family, and the pair had a daughter, Ellen. The judge’s proper world would be shattered when Jim’s affair with Edith Hughes became public. Appalled, Judge Lowell badgered Chris Hughes, the junior partner at his law firm, to get his sister to leave town. Unfortunately, Edith was stubborn, and in love, and refused to back down. It was obvious that the judge thought that his son should stay with Claire who the judge loved like a daughter. Though Claire was determined to hang on to her marriage, she eventually realized that she was hanging on for the sake of appearances. Finally realizing that she was in a loveless marriage, Claire decided to grant the divorce. Though the judge was so opposed to this that he suffered a heart scare when Claire told him her decision, he eventually accepted the decision and, later, apologized to Edith and his son. Afterwards, the judge resolved to truly get to know his son, even going as far as to call him Jim, and later, father and son bonded like never before on a fishing trip. Tragically, on that very trip, Jim died after falling out of the boat and hitting his head.
Following Jim’s death, Judge Lowell continued to live with Claire who was falling in love with her doctor, Doug Cassen. Though the judge disapproved of Claire marrying so soon after Jim’s death, it didn’t take long for him to admit that Doug was a better husband to Claire than Jim was. In the meantime, the judge, who hoped that his granddaughter would marry Don Hughes, was shocked when a teenaged Ellen became pregnant by a married man. Ellen gave birth to a boy, who she named Jimmy, and was convinced by her family to give him up for adoption. A few years later, Ellen learned that her son had been adopted by the Stewart family and had been renamed Dan. Amidst her family’s objections, Ellen fought for custody and claimed that her family pressured her into giving up her child. At this accusation, Doug branded Ellen a liar and Judge Lowell was so distraught at having to testify against his granddaughter that he suffered a heart attack. On Doug’s recommendation, the judge finally retired and made Chris Hughes a senior partner in the firm.
In the meantime, Claire was feeling neglected because of the long hours that Doug spent at the hospital. As in her marriage to Jim, Claire became clinically depressed and accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills. Luckily, she was found by Doug and young Dr. Bob Hughes and was saved. Unfortunately, administering to Claire caused Doug to miss an urgent page and one of his patients died as a result. When an investigation was launched as to why Doug failed to answer his page, Judge Lowell, in an attempt to protect Claire’s reputation, concocted a lie that Doug had been administering to him after he’d had a health scare. Though a reluctant Doug gave this statement to the police, Chris was suspicious. In the end, Claire found the courage to march into the courtroom and confess that Doug was saving her life.
A few years later, Doug died from a head injury. While the judge encouraged attorney Dick Martin to “plead his case” when it came to wooing Claire, Claire found herself being pursued by the younger Dr. Michael Shea. Claire was quickly won over by the charming Shea. Unfortunately, that relationship was a disaster from the start. Feeling insecure about the age difference, Claire began making herself look younger, to the judge’s amusement. Unfortunately, things got worse and, upon marrying Michael, Claire became a raging alcoholic. Luckily, she got herself together, divorced Shea and settled into a life alone with the judge. Tragically, not long after, Claire died after being struck by a car. After Claire’s untimely death, Ellen and her family moved into the Lowell house with the judge.
Years later, a hot shot lawyer named Grant Colman was offered a position at the Lowell firm, where Chris now worked with his grandson, Tom. Grant agreed to work at the firm if he was made a full partner. With that, the name of the firm was changed to Lowell, Hughes, and Colman. As for the judge, until his death years later, he was on hand to provide support for the Stewart and Hughes families.