Hope Was on the Way: When John Edwards Tried for a New York City Makeover, as a Lawyer

John Edwards might have begun his public redemption in the center office with the view of City Hall. Or, perhaps, in the larger office down the hall, on the 19th floor of the nondescript office building at 225 Broadway.

“We had bank loans lined up,” said Arthur Schwartz, a union and employment lawyer who met several times with Mr. Edwards last year about co-founding a public-interest law firm in New York City.

Before he was a U.S. senator, or a vice presidential candidate, or a presidential contender, or an exposed adulterer, Mr. Edwards was a trial attorney of the likes North Carolina had never seen. He won record-breaking verdicts in malpractice suits and product liability judgments, using his homespun charisma to woo juries and establish himself as one of the pre-eminent plaintiff’s attorneys in the country.

“I am grateful for those years,” Mr. Edwards wrote later, in his book Four Trials, “for it was then that I came to understand how smart and decent all kinds of regular American people are and will surely continue to be—even at the worst moments in their lives.”

Mr. Edwards appeared to be hoping for some of that same decency at his own nadir—and in New York, of all places. Read More