Clark M. Byse earned a bachelor’s degree from Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1935, and later received law degrees from University of Wisconsin and Columbia University. He was an assistant professor at Iowa from 1939 to 1941. During World War II he served as an attorney in the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the war, he taught law at University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty of Harvard Law School in 1957. He is widely believed to be the inspiration for the fearsome Professor Kingsfield in the Harvard Law School movie The Paper Chase.
Professor Byse took emeritus status at Harvard Law School in 1983, and returned to Iowa as a Mason S. Ladd Distinguished Visiting Professor in 1985. He taught law for more than 60 years before passing away in 2007. Harvard Law School has now established six Byse Fellowships in his honor.