While preparing for the bar exam, Dowdell taught school in LaFayette. Upon his admission to the bar, Dowdell began to practice law in Opelika, Alabama in 1870 with William J. Samford. Dowdell was appointed solicitor of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in 1876, and judge of the Fifth Circuit in 1888. In 1896, Dowdell was named chancellor of the Northeastern Division, and in 1898 was named an associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Dowdell was named by Governor Braxton Bragg Comer Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 1909. He served in that position until his resignation in 1914. Dowdell returned to LaFayette until his death in 1921.
Alabama Department of Archives and History. . Accessed July 8, 2007.
Alabama Dept. of Archives and History. Alabama Official and Statistical Register, 1907, 43.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc., . Accessed July 8, 2007.