Before 1812, David attended Yale Law School for two years, and moved to Cambridge, Maryland to tutor for a private family.
He was the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives 1826 to 1827. The young family moved to Angelica, New York, where Higgins practiced law, and by 1816 moved to Hamilton, Ohio by horseback with an infant son. While in Springfield, Higgins was elected four years in a row to the Ohio House of Representatives, the last of which, (1826-"7), he served as the speaker of the house.
In 1828, they moved again, this time to Norwalk in northern Ohio.
In Norwalk, Higgins practiced law privately, until he was elected by the legislature as President Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit of Ohio. After the election of President James K. Polk, Higgins was appointed to a clerkship with the Treasury Department in Washington, District of Columbia, which he retained until his death in 1873.
Higgins" first wife, Cecilia, died in Washington in October, 1846. While riding in his carriage in 1834 in Norwalk, Ohio, his horse ran away, and Higgins injured his foot in jumping to safety.
His leg was amputated below the knee, and he used a prosthesis the rest of his life.