John "Jay" Watson was born and raised in Florence. His grandfather and great-grandfather were native to Georgetown, and he has family scattered across the state from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
Watson has been a licensed member of the Bars of South Carolina and North Carolina since 1995. He is also a certified Mediator with the courts of South Carolina and North Carolina. In more than 26 years of practice, he has represented individuals, families, small businesses, nonprofits, and national companies in a variety of civil and criminal matters covering issues of contracts, litigation, personal injury and property damage, construction, real estate, entertainment, business and mediation. Prior to practicing law, he worked with the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, where he assisted law enforcement agencies statewide to establish and operate criminal justice programs for special drug enforcement task forces, juvenile justice and domestic violence programs, and special prosecution teams under grants through the U.S. Bureau of Justice.
He is a former staff member of a small church in Asheville, N.C., where he served in counseling, teaching and administration, as well as oversight for a weekly ministry of a food and clothing pantry for many in need in the downtown area of Asheville.
Watson served for nine years on the Buncombe County Board of Elections, six years of which he served as chairman of the board. He has served as a legal intern with the United States Attorney’s Office and as a legislative intern in the U.S. Senate. He is a graduate of Campbell University School of Law, and of Regent University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Public Policy.
Watson is married and the father of four. He enjoys sailing, swimming, and is a certified rescue diver.