The Harris County Robert W. Hainsworth Law Library is pleased to announce that Joseph D. Lawson has been named the new Director of the Law Library.
Joe is no stranger to the Law Library or its community partners. He joined the Law Library in 2014, after acting as Law Librarian for the Fort Bend County Law Library. As Deputy Director, Joe sought to increase access to the justice system and legal information for the thousands of patrons, self-represented litigants and attorneys alike, that passed through the Law Library’s doors. Recognizing the need for lawyers (and the public) to be more technologically savvy, Joe established and directed the Legal Tech Institute, a series of free learning opportunities focused on legal technology, designed for everyone from tech novices to tech wizards. He even engineered STAN (Synchronous Touchless Assistive Node), the virtual presence device that enabled library staff to safely interact with patrons during the pandemic. Seeking to broaden the Law Library’s visibility in the community, he designed and maintained the library’s website and social media presence and launched Ex Libris Juris, the Law Library’s blog in January 2016. At the same time, he managed marketing and outreach efforts to the legal community and public patrons and served on the Houston Bar Association’s Law Library, Law Week, and Historical Committees.
Joe’s involvement with law libraries and its services is not limited to the work that he has performed on behalf of the Law Library. Joe is currently the Chair of the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting Program Committee and has presented at the AALL Annual Meeting on numerous occasions. For his hard work, Joe received the Emerging Leader Award from AALL in 2017 and the President’s Award from the HBA in 2021. He is a frequent contributor to AALL publications, including AALL Spectrum, which featured his two-part article, “Teaching Legal Tech Is Not Optional,” in its January/February and March/April 2021 editions.
Joe, who assumed his new position in March 2022, follows in the footsteps of Mariann Sears. Mariann, who has taken on a new role as the Operations Manager/Director Emerita, served as the Law Library Director for the last 10 years, seeing the library through a period of great transition. The Law Library became part of the Harris County Attorney’s Office and relocated from the 17th to the 1st floor. Patron traffic, resource usage, and community support for the Law Library increased significantly, as the Law Library grew into a vibrant and essential resource for the residents of Harris County. The Law Library is appreciative of Mariann’s leadership, vitality, and vision and for recognizing the essential role that the Law Library fills in the community.
As Joe begins his tenure as the Law Library Director, his initiatives and ideas will build on the solid foundation established by Mariann. Joe’s own energy and vision for the future of the Law Library, including his ideas for expanded services and greater access to resources throughout Harris County, are sure to lead the Law Library in new and exciting directions.