William G. Hammond came to Iowa in 1860, where he worked as an engineer as well as a lawyer. In 1866 he published an Iowa case digest and became chief editor of the The Western Jurist. In 1866, he joined the faculty of the Iowa Law School in Des Moines, and moved with the Iowa Law School to Iowa City. He served as Principal and later Chancellor of what was then the Law Department of the University of Iowa.
Chancellor Hammond was instrumental in increasing the length of the law school course of instruction from one year to two. He served as Chancellor at Iowa until 1881, when he became Dean of the Law Department of Washington University at St. Louis. He died in 1894.