Harvard Law School has appointed Amanda Watson as the new assistant dean for library and information services. Watson, currently the director of the law library at the University of Houston, will assume the role previously held for nearly a decade by Jocelyn Kennedy prior to her departure last summer.

In a March 28 email to Harvard Law faculty and staff, Jonathan Zittrain ’95, the school’s vice dean for library and information resources, praised Watson as “an extraordinary talent who has a career-long track record of overseeing and contributing to law library teams that pioneer and provide phenomenal services.”

“Amanda brings to HLS a tremendous record of professional achievement,” he added. “I am thrilled that she has agreed to contribute her extraordinary talent and experience to us and to the Harvard Law Library’s mission of providing exceptional services to students, faculty, alumni, and staff.”

During her tenure at the University of Houston, Watson received national recognition as the winner of the 2021 LexisNexis American Association of Law Libraries Call for Papers Award for her submission “‘The Report of My Death Was an Exaggeration’ — The Legal Treatise.” She was also selected by her peers to speak at Yale’s Law Library Symposium in 2021 and 2023.

Prior to her time at the University of Houston, Watson served as the associate director of the law library at Tulane University. She also previously held the role of state librarian of Mississippi and clerked for Chief Judge Roger McMillin of the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

“It is a tremendous privilege to join the esteemed ranks of the Harvard Law Library,” said Watson. “I am profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to share my talents with the exceptional librarians and other professionals already present, whose laudable commitment to the missions of Harvard Law School inspire me. Libraries have always been central to my life, and I am thrilled to bring my decades of experience and unique perspectives to the creation, preservation, and dissemination of information in this important position.”

Watson earned her B.A. from Mississippi University for Women as a first-generation college student, graduating summa cum laude. She received her J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she was a member of Phi Delta Phi, and her master’s degree in information science from the Florida State University School of Information, where she also graduated with summa cum laude honors.

In his email, Zittrain also thanked the law library team for their work on behalf of the Harvard Law community as the search for a new assistant dean unfolded. “I would also like to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to ensuring that the [l]ibrary’s operations continued undiminished during this interim period,” he wrote. “I especially want to thank Associate Directors Leah Prescott and Lesliediana Jones for their commitment, leadership, and wisdom in recent months and throughout their time at HLS.”

Watson will commence her new role in August 2024.