Clarence Updegraff held degrees from University of Iowa and Harvard University. He taught law at George Washington University from 1918 to 1924, and after a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard University he returned to Iowa in 1926. He was a member of the faculty at University of Iowa College of Law from 1926 to 1961. He also served as Vice-President and assistant to the President of the University of Iowa from 1934 to 1938, and as assistant attorney general of the state of Iowa from 1933 to 1937. In 1964, he joined the faculty at University of California-Hastings College of Law, where he remained until his retirement in 1972. He died in 1978.