Lin Wood was raised in Macon, Georgia, since age 3. He stated that his family struggled financially with frequent episodes of domestic abuse involving his parents. He has one sister, Diane Wood Stern, born February 1951 and a half sister, Linda Martin, born in 1946. After a school dance, the then 16-year-old Wood returned home to find his father had beaten his mother to death. L. Lin Wood Sr. pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a charge reduced from first-degree murder. He served a little over two years in prison. Wood has stated that it was this experience that solidified his earlier decision to become a lawyer.
Wood lived with friends and graduated from Mark Smith High School in Macon, Georgia in 1970. He went on to attend Mercer University, graduating cum laude in 1974, and Walter F. George School of Law, graduating cum laude in 1977. From 1977 to 1996 Wood litigated personal injury cases and medical malpractice cases in the State of Georgia.