Louis Scolnik was born in Lewiston, Maine on February 14, 1923. His mother was Bessie Picker Scolnik, a housewife originally from Lithuania; his father was Julius Scolnik was originally from Kovna, and operated a retail clothing store on Lisbon St. He had two brothers, Morris and William H., and two sisters, Rose and Ida. He attended the Beth Jacobs Synagogue in Lewiston. He was influenced by the Boy Scouts growing up, and enjoyed studying the saxophone and clarinet
He attended the Dingley School, then a temporary school at the Lewiston Armory. Later, he went to Frye School (now closed), Jordan School, and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1941. During high school, he played tennis, basketball, and ran track. He attended Bates College for two years and then joined the Navy in Landing Craft Infantry (LCI). He traveled to Oregon to join the LCI (L) 776 (a ship), where he was stationed for the remainder of World War II, traveling to Hawaii, Guinea, the Philippines, Japan, China, and Taiwan.
Scolnik graduated from Bates after the War, having received credit during military service. He then worked for Container Corp. of America and later the Veterans Administration. He then decided to go to law school, attending Georgetown University. He joined the moot court team and took an internship in Maine under John Platz. He practiced law with Platz (1952-1957). He served on the board of NAACP and acted as their legal counsel in Maine. Eventually he got involved in mayoral politics and was elected city attorney. He became a judge in 1974.
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Burnham-Bestor, Marisa, "Scolnik, Louis oral history interview" (1999). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 356.