A native Texan, Ira Polk Hildebrand (1876-1944) was born in La Grange on December 19, 1876. He received his B.A. degree from Texas Christian University in 1897. He obtained LL.B. and B.A. degrees from the University of Texas in 1899 as well as an LL.M. degree in 1900, during which time he acted as law librarian for the University of Texas Department of Law. Hildebrand attained an LL.B. degree from Harvard in 1902 and was admitted to the Texas bar that same year. He returned to Texas, practicing law with T. D. Cobbs in San Antonio, representing railroads, banks, and other corporations.
Hildebrand became an associate professor of law at the University of Texas in 1907 and taught Contracts and Private Corporations. Known as "Hildy" to students and faculty, his courses had a reputation for being exacting and his students were held to a high standard. Along with Professor Leon Green, Professor Charles Potts, and Judge Ireland Graves, Hildebrand helped found the Texas Law Review in 1922. He was appointed dean in 1924. Serving as dean until 1939, Hildebrand made the School of Law one of the largest in the country in terms of enrollment and faculty. He modernized the curriculum, increased law school entrance requirements to a rigorous 93 college credits, and introduced the casebook method of instruction. Additionally, he used the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and other sources to fund grants and fellowships for students during the Depression. After resigning from the deanship in 1940, Hildebrand continued to teach full-time at the School of Law.
Hildebrand authored Select Cases and Other Authorities on the Law of Private Corporations with E. H. Warren in 1912, Restatement of the Law of Contracts as Adopted and Promulgated by the American Law Institute Containing Texas Annotations in 1933, and the four-volume Law of Texas Corporations in 1942.
He was a member of the American Bar Association and the Texas Bar Association, a member of the Texas Civil Judicial Council from its establishment in 1929 until his death, a life member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools, a thirty-second degree Mason, a Shriner, and a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.