Paul Sayre held degrees from Harvard and University of Chicago. After several years of private practice, he joined the faculty of Indiana University School of Law in 1925. He also spent a year as a lecturer at Harvard Law School before becoming a law professor at University of Iowa College of Law in 1930, where he taught until the time of his death in 1959. He served as Faculty Editor of the Iowa Law Review during World War II, keeping the publication afloat during a time of drastically reduced student enrollment. His work focused on family law and international law.