Judge Mary Jane Bowes was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in 1976. Upon graduation, she was selected for the James Fulton Internship with Congressman H. John Heinz III. While attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Judge Bowes participated in legal internships with the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and Neighborhood Legal Services in Homewood. She received her law degree in 1979.
After graduating from law school, Judge Bowes served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Henry X. O’Brien of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and to Senior Judges Harry Montgomery and John P. Hester of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. From 1986 to 1998, she was engaged in the private practice of law. Her extensive legal experience included work in the areas of personal injury, insurance defense, real estate, corporate and commercial litigation, and social security disability matters. In 1994, Judge Bowes founded her own firm, specializing primarily in construction and commercial litigation. While in private practice, she was chosen as arbitrator in numerous matters in both federal and state court arbitration programs as well as in private arbitrations. She received an AV Peer Review Rating by Martindale Hubbell. In 1996, Judge Bowes was elected to membership in the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. She joined a publicly-traded environmental remediation company as Corporate Counsel in 1998. Judge Bowes is a member of the Allegheny County Bar Association, and served on its Professional Ethics and Appellate Practice Committees. She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and is past Co-Chair of the Appellate Advocacy Committee. In 2008, she was awarded a Special Achievement Award by the Pennsylvania Bar Association for her work on that committee. She previously served as co-president of the Women’s Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania and is past president of the St. Thomas More Society.
In addition to her duties on the court, Judge Bowes was a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Juvenile Delinquency, and is a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Appellate Procedural Rules Committee. She is a continuing legal education course planner and lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, American Inns of Court, and numerous county bar associations. Judge Bowes has published several articles on diverse subjects pertaining to the Superior Court. Active in community affairs, Judge Bowes chairs the Council of Trustees of Bloomsburg University, one of the fourteen state PASSHE universities. She also serves on the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Alumni Board. She is past chair of the St. Anthony Program and St. Anthony Charitable Foundation, former trustee of the Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation, St. Clair Memorial Hospital, the Allegheny County Finance and Development Commission, and numerous other charitable and civic organizations.
In 1997, she was honored by Governor Tom Ridge with Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business Award. She was named Woman of the Year in 2007 by the University of Pittsburgh Law Women’s Association for her work on the Color of Justice Program, and received the Spirit of St. Anthony Award in 2018. Judge Bowes was elected to a ten-year term on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in November 2001, and was retained in 2011. Her chambers are located in Pittsburgh.