Eric Sutton studied economics at McGill University before entering law school. In 1981, he graduated from the McGill Faculty of Law with degrees in both civil and common law (B.C.L.; LL.B).
He began his law practice in Calgary, Alberta with the firm of MacPherson & Associates specializing in criminal law. He has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta since 1982. In 1986, he moved to Ottawa to take a position with the Office of the Correctional Investigator whose mandate is to investigate complaints from inmates of the federal penitentiary system. While living in Ottawa he joined the Bar of Quebec and the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario).