Ernest Cochran was educated at the Anderson Military School and the University of Virginia, where he received an LL.B. degree. He married Miss Mary Virginia Lewis of Kansas City, Missouri, in 1900.
He practiced law in Anderson from 1890 to 1923 and then moved to Charleston and became the United States District Judge for the Eastern District of South Carolina. He occupied that office until his death in 1934.
Prior to being named Federal District Judge, he served as Assistant United States District Attorney and later as the United States District Attorney.
One of the ablest lawyers and one of the ablest judges the State of South Carolina ever produced. He was not excelled in the purity of his private and professional life.