Robert Hunt was born in Iowa and was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar at Oberlin College before earning his master’s degree at Harvard University in 1940. After serving as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Professor Hunt attended Yale Law School, where he was the editor of the Yale Law Journal. Professor Hunt also studied at the University of Wisconsin as a Rockefeller Fellow in Legal Economic History, and in 1952, he was awarded the S.J.D. His dissertation on U.S. railroad history, published by the Wisconsin Press under the title Law and Locomotives, received the David Everest Clark prize in Economic History and was widely reviewed in law and history journals. Professor Hunt thereafter took a teaching job at the University of Iowa School of Law where he taught Legislation, Security Transactions, and Torts.
After teaching at Iowa for two years, Professor Hunt joined the Chicago firm of Schiff Hardin & Waite. He was a partner at the firm specializing in land use and securities law, and he was a member of the county zoning appeals board for several years. As a member of the firm, he also helped create the northwest suburban village of Barrington Hills.
In 1966, Professor Hunt joined the faculty at the University of Washington where he taught corporations, land use planning, urban planning, securities, professional responsibility, and property law. He also continued to research American legal history. For five of the twenty years he was at UW, he was an associate dean of the law school.