Scott Sterling came to Alaska in 1976 as a surveyor with the U.S. Forest Service. He graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1984, and then from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1986. He was the City of Cordova's attorney during the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and later worked as an attorney for the State of Alaska. He represented Cordova as a litigant in the lengthy settlement trial after the spill. From 1990-1993, Scott served as a board member on the Prince William Sound Regional Citizen's Advisory Council, serving as president from 1992-1993.