Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2008 - #3.
Wynn Underwood: Law School and a Legal Career Furthered by the Veterans Administration
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL #173, Volume 34, No. 4 SPRING 2008
YANKEE JUSTICE:THE LIGHTER SIDE OFTHE LAW
Wynn Underwood: Law School and a Legal Career Furthered by the Veterans Administrationby Virginia C. DownsThe following profile of Wynn Underwood is the twenty-fourth in a series published in the Journal under the general title of "Yankee Justice." The profiles are based on interviews of members of the bench and bar conducted by free-lance writer and oral historian Virginia Downs in 1978 and 1979. The project was proposed at a meeting of an ad hoc committee of the Vermont bench and bar in April of 1978 to tie in with planned bicentennial celebrations of the state's legal beginnings in 1779. It was in that year that Stephen Bradley and Noah Smith were sworn in as Vermont's first official lawyers. The profiles include biographical material and anecdotes from the interviewees' legal activities.
"I was raised in Sudbury, Vermont, went to Brandon High School and then to Dartmouth College for two years. Then I went into the service. After I was discharged I ran for the Legislature and was representative from Sudbury in 1947. At that time I got interested in the law because I was trying to put my legislative background to some useful purpose.
"I checked with my good friend Asa Bloomer about where I might get the best legal education. I had been offered a job in a law office to learn law by reading it. Asa's comment was, `you get locked with somebody that's got measles and you'll catch measles sooner or later, but it's not the best way to get a law education.' He said if you can go to law school, try to go.
"I went over and talked with the Veterans Administration people because I'd been disabled in the war and they said, `Oh sure, we can pay your expenses to law school, pay your tuition and your books, and we'll give you ninety dollars a month to live on.' So I applied to a whole bunch of law schools, never realizing that with only two years of undergraduate school, there was a real problem of getting into places like Harvard, Columbia, and Yale. The bigger law schools wouldn't give you the time of day if you didn't have a BA degree.
"I got accepted at Boston University and Boston College. I remember that with BU I didn't hear from them all summer long, way into fall, almost time to start school. Finally I called them and said, `Well, I know I didn't do very well on that test you made me take.' That was when they were just experimenting with the LSAT; it wasn't compulsory, but they wanted to see how it worked. They said, `You're right, you didn't.' My reply was I'd had only two years of undergraduate. Their reply was, `Well, you've been in the service and you've been working and you've been in the Legislature, so we think you've got a little more age and maturity, so we're going to take a chance on you.' So that's how I got into BU in 1949.
"After I got out of BU, since I had apprenticed with Asa Bloomer for two summers while I was in law school, I hoped that I could go into his office. But at the time his son Robert had just graduated and was in the office. He had another son John who was just coming in. The...