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John Edwards goes back to square one to practice personal injury law

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 3:37 PM EST, Tue November 19, 2013
U.S. Sen. John Edwards, center, and other senators discuss President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial on February 3, 1999. More than a year later, Vice President Al Gore reportedly put Edwards on his "short list" as a running mate on the 2000 Democratic presidential ticket (before picking Joe Lieberman). U.S. Sen. John Edwards, center, and other senators discuss President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial on February 3, 1999. More than a year later, Vice President Al Gore reportedly put Edwards on his "short list" as a running mate on the 2000 Democratic presidential ticket (before picking Joe Lieberman).
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The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
The rise and fall of John Edwards
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Edwards is opening a practice in Raleigh with the same partner he started with in 1993
  • It's his first step back into the public eye since his acquittal on campaign finance charges
  • Report: He also does not think that his affair and his wife's death will influence juries against him
  • He has no more political ambitions, he and his daughter say

(CNN) -- After two bids for the Oval Office, a sex scandal and a fraud trial, John Edwards is back where he started from.

The former senator will be practicing personal injury law in his home state of North Carolina, CNN affiliate WRAL reported Monday.

He is opening a practice in Raleigh with the same law partner he started his first firm with in 1993, David Kirby. The firm will practice under the name Edwards Kirby.

CNN reported in June that Edwards was looking to open a new law firm that would focus on plaintiff work.

The announcement is Edwards' first step back into the public eye since he was acquitted of campaign finance charges last year.

The trial dragged into the light messy details of a love affair Edwards had with a campaign employee, while the wife who supported his ambitions was dying of cancer.

Rep. Vance McAllister, shown here as he awaits to be sworn in to the House last fall, asked for forgiveness from God, his family and his constituents after a newspaper published what it said was surveillance video showing the married Louisiana Republican making out with a female staffer. Click through the images for some other politicians behaving badly. Rep. Vance McAllister, shown here as he awaits to be sworn in to the House last fall, asked for forgiveness from God, his family and his constituents after a newspaper published what it said was surveillance video showing the married Louisiana Republican making out with a female staffer. Click through the images for some other politicians behaving badly.
Photos: Politicians behaving badly
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Photos: Politicians behaving badly Photos: Politicians behaving badly

It crushed his public image and may have put an end to any further political ambitions.

Edwards originally used his success as a lawyer to springboard into politics. His daughter does not think he'll try that move again.

"I would be very surprised," Cate Edwards told WRAL. She has joined the firm and said that from here on out, her father will concentrate on practicing law.

Cate Edwards recalls being 'devastated' at news of father's affair

Love of law

"I loved it for the decades I did it, and I think it's what I was born to do," John Edwards told North Carolina's News & Observer website. His political career is over, he said.

He also does not think that his affair with Reille Hunter -- which resulted in a child he originally denied fathering -- would influence juries against his clients, he told the News & Observer.

"Courtrooms are not a place where, in my experience, showmanship and flamboyance wins out. Hard work and having a case that is true and meritorious wins out," he told the paper.

The former senator wants to expand from personal injury into cases of social injustice.

"We want to take on cases that, through litigation, change social inequalities in favor of the greater good," Edwards said in a statement to WRAL.

Personal injury is still on the menu, but the firm currently also has cases of bad faith insurance, price fixing and several discrimination cases, Cate Edwards said.

Square one

Two decades ago, the firm Edwards founded with Kirby was known as Edwards & Kirby, LLP. Edwards quickly became a shooting star.

In 1996, he was named lawyer of the year. Two years later, his political career began, when he won a seat in the U.S. Senate.

He ran for president in the Democratic primary in 2004 but lost to John Kerry. Kerry then picked him as his vice presidential running mate. The pair lost the electionto George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In 2007, Edwards' wife Elizabeth, who had been battling cancer, suffered a relapse.

Edwards: Once a cheater, always a cheater?

In 2008, Edwards ran again but dropped out, endorsing neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama for the presidency. Shortly before that, Hunter gave birth to her and Edwards' child. No father was listed on the birth certificate.

Later that year, he admitted to the affair but denied fathering their child.

In 2009, his wife wrote a memoir detailing her wish for him to end his affair and return to the marriage.

In the same year, the U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into Edwards' campaign finances. He was indicted.

In 2010, former aide Andrew A. Young, in a book about Edwards' political career, alleged Edwards misappropriated campaign funds to cover Hunter's pregnancy expenses.

Days before publication, Edwards admitted to fathering Hunter's child and separated from his wife Elizabeth. She died later that year.

Edwards was later acquitted on fraud charges but was required to pay campaign funds back to the U.S. Treasury. He developed a heart condition during his trial.

In May this year, Edwards reactivated his license to practice law.

Edwards' fall from grace

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