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Ebbott retiring as head of Legal Action of Wisconsin

John Ebbott

John Ebbott (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

The executive director of Legal Action of Wisconsin Inc. is retiring next year, marking the second high-profile loss to the Milwaukee legal services community this week.

John Ebbott confirmed Thursday that he will be retiring in June.

The Milwaukee attorney has been a longtime advocate for poor residents who need representation for civil legal services, especially in a time where public money for the services is at an all-time low in Wisconsin. He recently filed a rule petition in front of the state Supreme Court to create a system where civil attorneys would be appointed at public expense. The justices denied a similar petition in 2012.

Ebbott started his career as a staff attorney at Freedom Through Equality Inc., a law reform legal services firm in Milwaukee, and later spent time as litigation director for the Migrant Legal Action Project in Washington, D.C.

His announcement is the second major loss to the civil legal services community this week. Tom Cannon, executive director of Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Inc., also announced his retirement. He told his nonprofit’s Board of Directors on Wednesday that he would step down in September.

Cannon referred to Ebbott as “a giant in the legal profession,” and noted their close working relationship over the years.

“He’s somebody who will be extremely difficult to replace,” Cannon said, “because of his significant contribution to the cause of equal justice.”


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