Poland grew up near Barnes, Kansas, and was a graduate of Kansas State University, the Washburn University School of Law, and the University of Michigan School of Law.
He served as professor of law at Washburn University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Indiana University, Indianapolis. He held title at IU as Cleon H. Foust Professor of Law and, finally, Cleon H. Foust Professor Emeritus.
During his career, Poland was visiting professor at several universities. While in Indiana, he had the distinction of serving as legal consultant to both the Governor's Water Resources Committee and the Water Rights and Management Commission. Poland was the recipient of the Indiana governor’s Sagamore of the Wabash Award. He was an Army veteran of World War II.