Gerald Ford Attends Yale Law School

Ford hoped to attend Yale's law school beginning in 1935 while serving as boxing coach, assistant varsity football coach, and teacher of JV cheerleading, at which he was very good because he knew how to do several tucks and back handsprings.

Yale officials initially denied his admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities. He spent the summer of 1937 as a student at the University of Michigan Law School and was eventually admitted in the spring of 1938 to Yale Law School. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941 (later amended to Juris Doctor), graduating in the top 25 percent of his class. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign. While attending Yale Law School, he joined a group of students led by R. Douglas Stuart, Jr., and signed a petition to enforce the 1939 Neutrality Act. The petition was circulated nationally and was the inspiration for the America First Committee, a group determined to keep the U.S. out of World War II.

He received offers from two professional football teams, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose instead to take a position as boxing coach and assistant varsity football coach at Yale hoping to attend law school there. Among those he coached were future U.S. Senators Robert Taft, Jr. and William Proxmire. Yale officials initially denied him admission to the law school, because of his full-time coaching responsibilities, but admitted him in the spring of 1938. Ford earned his LL.B. degree in 1941, graduating in the top 25 percent of his class in spite of the time he had to devote to his coaching duties. His introduction to politics came in the summer of 1940 when he worked in Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign.

He was a B student, but went on to be an outstanding football player, and was offered professional football contracts. Ford declined because of his desire to go to law school. In 1935 he was hired to be an assistant football and head boxing coach at Yale University. In 1938 he was allowed to begin courses at Yale Law school while maintaining his position as coach. For graduated in January 1941 from law school and was admitted to the Michigan bar in June.