Tony Hawthorne grew up in northern New Jersey. He graduated with a degree in English from Yale University, worked in the financial services industry in New York City, served in the U.S. Army, and received his law degree from the University of California (Berkeley) Law School. He practiced law in the San Francisco Bay Area for over forty years, specializing in civil litigation, and while in active practice received a 'Preeminent Lawyer' rating for more than 20 years. He lives in Berkeley with his wife. They have two children, one an architecture critic and the other a specialist in Middle East politics and reform, and two grandchildren.