According to testimony at his trial, Edwards has spoken to friends about his dream of opening a law firm specializing in representing low-income and indigent clients.
Black, of Emory, said it might be difficult for Edwards to practice law again because opposing lawyers could talk about his public lies about the Hunter affair.
Whatever he does, Edwards should eschew cameras, microphones and Twitter, said Harlan Loeb, a crisis management expert in Chicago. Edwards could change his public story by the work he does out of the spotlight, he said.
"He needs to do a considerable amount of work over a sustained period of time," Loeb said.
It might take even longer for people to forget how far the U.S. senator, vice presidential nominee and Democratic presidential contender fell from grace.
"We had such high hopes of him. He represented regular people against corporations. He was long married to a woman who didn't look like a trophy wife," said celebrity attorney Gloria Allred. "He had charisma, personality, commitment and experience. He had so much farther to fall so the disappointment is much greater."
Smith, Edwards' friend for about 30 years, said there's still hope, and forgiveness ahead, for Edwards.
"The people of this country are a forgiving people and they understand that folks make terrible mistakes, that people get themselves in awful messes," Smith said.
"He has a lot going for him, a lot of ability. The time will come when there will be things for him to do that will be worthwhile, and he will know what they are if he will be quiet and listen."
Associated Press writer Johnny Clark in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc . Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck.
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