Martin Wade graduated from University of Iowa College of Law in 1886. After graduating, he practiced law in Iowa City until 1893, when he became a judge of the Eighth Judicial District of Iowa. He served as a judge of the Eighth District until 1903. He taught law at Iowa from 1891 to 1903, and was president of the Iowa State Bar Association in 1897 and 1898. He was also a member of Congress from 1903 to 1905. He resumed the practice of law in Iowa until being appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in 1915. He served on the federal bench until the time of his death in 1931.