John Cannon Few was born in Anderson, South Carolina. He grew up in Greenwood, and graduated from Greenwood High School in 1981. He attended college at Duke University, where he served as Duke's athletic mascot - the Blue Devil - during his junior year. John graduated from Duke in 1985 with an A.B. in English and Economics.
John went on to attend the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was a member of The Order of Wig and Robe and The Order of the Coif. He also served as Student Works Editor of the South Carolina Law Review. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1988.
John began his legal career as law clerk to the late Honorable G. Ross Anderson Jr., United States District Judge. He practiced law in Greenville from 1989 until 2000, and is admitted to practice in South Carolina, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. John served as a trial judge on the Circuit Court of South Carolina from July 2000 until February 2010. He then became the Chief Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals, a position he held until February 2016. John was sworn in as a Justice on the Supreme Court of South Carolina on February 9, 2016.
John is a frequent public speaker. In 1996, he gave a speech entitled "Citizen Participation in the Legal System," for which he was awarded first place in the American Bar Association's nationwide Edward R. Finch Law Day speech contest. Since then he has given numerous speeches to bar associations and civic groups throughout the country. In December 2012, he delivered the commencement speech, entitled "What it Means to be a Lawyer," to the graduates of the Charleston School of Law. In April 2016, he delivered the commencement speech to Lander University. He has given a speech entitled "The Courage of a Lawyer" to lawyers' groups in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and California. John wrote an article based on the speech that appeared under the same name in the Winter 2013 edition of the ABA's "Litigation" journal.
John has also been active in teaching law. He served on the faculty at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, from 2005 to 2009. He was an Adjunct Professor of Law and later a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Charleston School of Law from 2008 to 2012. John is now an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He has also given or moderated hundreds of continuing legal education seminars in South Carolina and numerous other states.
John is a Fellow in Liberty Fellowship, and as a part of Liberty Fellowship is a member of the moderator corps at The Aspen Institute. John completed the Diversity Leaders Initiative through The Riley Institute at Furman University in 2010. In December 2012, the Charleston School of Law awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
John has always been active in community service, even outside of his primary employment in public service. Before becoming a judge, for example, he read to pre-school children on a weekly basis for years in the Greenville Head Start program, tutored middle-school children through Save our Sons, taught middle and high school classes as part of the Junior Achievement program, and served on the board of Friends of the Reedy River. While he was a circuit judge, John served on the 2003-04 Governor's Water Law Review Committee. John now chairs the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission.
John has three children. His daughter Reed is a 2012 graduate of Duke University with a B.S. in Economics. Reed works for ConcertAI, a platform technology company focused on applications of artificial intelligence to oncology. She is married to Eric Pangraze, and they live in Durham with John's grandson Milo Riser Pangraze. John's daughter Anna is a 2016 graduate of Clemson University Honors College with a B.S. in Nursing. Anna lives in Flagstaff where she works as a registered nurse. His son Cannon is a 2020 graduate of Boston College with an A.B. in English. Cannon is a recording artist performing under the name "Cannon." He lives in Brooklyn, New York. John is the son of retired trial lawyer J. Kendall Few, formerly of Greenville now of Indianland, and retired real estate agent Belva Beasley Few of Greenwood.