Gerald Ford Opens Law Firm With Philip Buchen

Ford graduated from law school in 1941, and was admitted to the Michigan bar shortly there after.

In May 1941, he opened a Grand Rapids law practice with a friend, Philip Buchen, who would later serve as Ford's White House counsel. But overseas developments caused a change in plans, and Ford responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor by enlisting in the Navy.

May 1941
Ford returns to Grand Rapids and partners with friend Philip Buchen to open a law firm located in Suite 621 of the Michigan Trust Building. He also becomes active in local politics helping launch a reform group opposed to the Republican political machine of Frank D. McKay

At Yale, Ford rubbed shoulders with the sons of America's elite. His law school classmates included several future public officials, including Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver. While at Yale, Ford also met Phyllis Brown, a blonde, beautiful student attending Connecticut College for Women. The two shared a zest for life and fell in love, beginning what Ford later described as a "torrid four-year affair." The romance ended, however, when Ford decided to return to Grand Rapids to practice law and Brown stayed in New York to continue her modeling career.

Back in Michigan, Ford opened a successful law practice in 1941 with his friend (and future White House counsel) Philip Buchen. At the same time, he became increasingly interested in politics. A Republican, Ford had supported Wendell Willkie's unsuccessful run against President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election. Ford became active politically in Grand Rapids, joining a group of Republican reformers called the "Home Front," who opposed the local Republican machine headed by the arrogant and imperious boss Frank McKay.