Edwin Patterson held degrees from University of Missouri and Harvard Law School. He spent several years in private practice, as well as teaching law at University of Texas and University of Colorado. He was a member of the faculty at University of Iowa College of Law from 1920 to 1922.
After leaving Iowa, he joined the faculty at Columbia Law School, where he served as a professor for the rest of his career. His work focused on insurance, contracts, and jurisprudence.