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A Drive to Serve: Sheboygan County

The UW helped John Hawley become one of the leading prosecutors in Sheboygan County.

John Hawley

When John Hawley ’79, JD’82 was a senior in high school, he attended a Wisconsin football game against Nebraska. Wisconsin won at the last minute, and the excitement of the Badger fans sold him on going to UW-Madison.

“I never considered anywhere else,” Hawley says.

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at the UW. Hawley also earned as a law degree — with honors — from the UW Law School. With those diplomas in hand, he built a long and distinguished career in law, and he also used his time and talents to serve his community and the state.

Hawley’s law career included a stint as the Sheboygan County assistant district attorney and special prosecutor for the City of Sheboygan, Sheboygan County, and other municipalities. He has also represented thousands of individuals throughout his career. Today, in addition to running his successful law firm, Hawley serves as one of the prosecutors for the Village of Elkhart Lake and the Town of Lyndon.

In whatever legal capacity he is serving, Hawley says that one thing remains the same: “I am taking people through very difficult things in their lives.”

To see kids from Random Lake go to the UW and succeed — that’s very satisfying.

Hawley is humble about his accomplishments, and many of his achievements take place outside the field of law. He served on the Random Lake school board for 20 years, and as president of both the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. The National School Boards Association gave him a distinguished service award.

Hawley says that his service with the WIAA was especially enjoyable, and what he appreciated most was the sportsmanship he witnessed.

“When I went down to Madison for the WIAA tournaments,” says Hawley, “I appreciated that even the losers were still happy to be there — they still had satisfaction with what they’d done.”

Hawley never forgets his Badger roots, so he has set up a scholarship for students from his area who are studying at UW-Madison and hires them in his law office. He sees the University of Wisconsin–Madison as an extraordinary resource for the state.

Hawley says: “It provides a place for our top students: a place where they’ll be exposed to a diversity of backgrounds. There’s something there for everybody — to learn and grow and succeed. So, to see kids from Random Lake go to the UW and succeed — that’s very satisfying.”

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