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Home / 2013 Women in the Law / Dorow puts family first in courtroom and out

Dorow puts family first in courtroom and out

dorowStanding before a judge in a criminal courtroom is a daunting prospect. So Judge Jennifer Dorow hung family artwork around her Waukesha County Circuit courtroom to ease the anxiety of those appearing before her.

Most of this who stand before her “fall within the category of a good person who made a bad decision,” she said.

“Many, if not most, of the criminal defendants who come before me are broken people,” Dorow said. “They are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, children and even our grandparents.”

It’s for them — and anyone who enters Dorow’s courtroom — that she sits in front of a painting titled “The Future is Yours.”

“Its placement is purposeful,” Dorow said. “I have the unique opportunity to shape those who come before me. That shaping comes in many forms: correction, accountability, punishment, second chances and even hope.”

Dorow’s background as both a prosecutor and defense attorney affords her a unique perspective on the bench. Born in Milwaukee, she moved to Waukesha County at age 7 and graduated from Waukesha South High School in 1988.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcast communication from Marquette University in 1992, she went on to earn her law degree from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.

In 2000, she became an assistant district attorney. She then left the DA’s office in 2004 to work part time as a criminal defense attorney.

Dorow said she wanted to be a judge as soon as she started law school. Marriage and three children postponed that goal for a while, but by 2011, her time had come. “It was like the stars lined up for her,” her husband, Brian Dorow, said of his wife’s appointment to a vacancy on the Waukesha County traffic/criminal court.

“I always knew she would be a judge,” he said. “The right place for her is on the bench. She operates with the highest level of integrity, she’s reasonable, tough when necessary and renders good decisions.

Dorow “carries herself like a judge every day,” he said.

“She just gives without expecting anything in return,” Dorow’s husband said. “She’s compassionate, well-respected and allows her faith to guide her.”

Juggling three kids, a husband and a busy court schedule requires some flexibility, but Dorow said they make do.

“We eat out a lot and run out the door each morning, but to be loved by a child is the greatest gift of all, and I am thrice blessed,” she said.

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