- First female Associate District Court Judge in Douglas County
- Expert in domestic law
- Regarded the most effective Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Douglas County during her tenure
- High school teacher in Wyandotte County, Kansas for several years before attending law school
- Highly regarded teacher of University of Kansas School of Law course in Trial Advocacy
The Honorable Jean F. Shepherd wears many hats: teacher, volunteer, student, wife, mother, lawyer, and judge.
Ms. Shepherd received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kansas and subsequently taught high school in Wyandotte County, Kansas for several years. While she was teaching she became concerned about the number of students experiencing trouble with the law. Hoping to have some greater effect on the problem, she returned to school to earn her law degree. She excelled in laws school despite the rigors of the education and her other roles as a single parent. She not only attended classes and took care of the needs of her family, she found time to be involved in the Juvenile Justice Clinic.
Following law school, Ms. Shepherd served Douglas County as an Assistant District Attorney. During her years as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, she had the reputation of being the most effective prosecutor on the staff. She was also known as the fairest and the easiest with which to deal. As Michael Davis, former Dean of the University Law School wrote, “A great many members of the bar were unhappy when she left to join Lawrence’s law firm, not out of a lack of complimentary feelings, but simply because the most reasonable and effective person in the DA’s office had departed.”
Her reputation as a skilled and prepared trial attorney increased; she became known as an expert in domestic law. She was nominated by her peers and selected by Governor John Carlin to be the first female Associate District Court Judge in Douglas County. Michael J. Malone, another Associate District Judge, noted “I am not alone in my assessment of her as being a compassionate and knowledgeable jurist…Perhaps what is even more impressive than her professional career, is the way she has merged it with her family obligations without sacrificing either. Her caseload as a prosecutor was a heavy one, and yet as a single parent she managed her time with remarkable efficiency.”
Rose Marino, Associate General Counsel, also commented on her exemplary devotion to her family. Marino wrote “It is rare to find an individual who has such a balanced and steady approach to both her personal and professional lives. Consequently, Jean has become a role model for those younger members of the bar in Lawrence, as well as for current law students.” She mixes regularly with current law students as she also taught a course in the University of Kansas School of Law for several years, Trial Advocacy, a two-hour course taught once a week by a half-dozen carefully selected trial attorneys and judges. She is highly regarded by students in her class each semester and receives outstanding evaluations. She is also known for giving her time and energy willingly to such projects as Women’s Transitional Care and to law enforcement training.