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Michael Cannon grew up in Peoria, Illinois, with one older brother. After graduating from law school, he began his career as a federal prosecutor of government corruption cases for the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division. He went on to work at several private law firms in Washington, DC. Then, in 1993 he returned to St. Louis, Missouri, where he had done his undergraduate studies at Washington University. He is currently the university’s Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel. He is also the uncle of Ben Cannon, who won a Rhodes Scholarship in 2000.