Horace Lafayette Wilgus, a member of the University of Michigan Law School faculty for 34 years, was born in Conover, Ohio, in 1859. After graduating in 1882 from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree, he held a variety of occupations, including deputy county surveyor in Miami County, Ohio, and instructor in mathematics at Ohio State University. In 1884, he was admitted to the Ohio Bar, and he opened a law office in Troy, Ohio, in 1886. In 1889, he earned a Masters of Science degree, also from Ohio State.
In 1890-1891, Wilgus helped to organize the law school at Ohio State, where he became secretary and professor of elementary law. In 1895, he resigned both positions to become professor of law at the University of Michigan. He was made a permanent member of that faculty in 1897.
Wilgus earned special regard for his work in torts and corporation law, and was the author of several books, including Cases in the Law of Evidence (1896), The United States Steel Corporation (1901), Annotated Cases in the Law of Private Corporations (1902), and The Law of Private Corporations (1910). He was a frequent contributor to the Michigan Law Review and other legal publications.
Following his retirement in 1929, he became professor emeritus, and in 1932, published an annotation on corporation law in collaboration with Burritt Hamilton. He died in 1935 of a heart attack.