When Herman Cain held the long-awaited news conference late Tuesday afternoon to tackle allegations that he sexually harassed four women, a smooth-talking Southern attorney was the first person to step to the microphone.

Cain’s lawyer is L. Lin Wood, a well-known Atlanta-based trial attorney who has carved out a successful career representing the high-profile and falsely accused, often seeking eye-popping damages for those he believes have been libeled or slandered in the press.

Attorney L. Lin Wood who is representing U.S. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks during a news conference in Scottsdale, Arizona November 8, 2011. (JOSHUA LOTT/REUTERS)

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather once called Wood the “attorney for the damned.”

When asked why he had chosen to represent Cain, Wood cited the media circus.

“I have spent many years representing clients who have seen their reputations and lives destroyed by false accusations in the media,” Wood wrote in an e-mail message to The Post Tuesday evening. “I believe that Herman Cain has been unfairly put on trial in the court of public opinion based on reports from unknown or anonymous sources, rumor, speculation and inherently improbable statements by the most recent accuser.”

With Wood’s hiring, Cain has a powerful ally on his side. A partner with Wood Hernacki & Evans LLC, Wood has a three-decade-long career prosecuting, and defending, celebrity clients, sometimes winning mega-settlements on their behalf. He is a fierce advocate.

“If you’re going to go to war--and I do adopt the philosophy that every lawsuit is a war and each step along the way can be described as a battle--then you’ve got to believe in what you’re fighting for and in the person you’re fighting for,” Wood told the Chicago Tribune. “I do that.”

Wood’s career seems to have been launched by his defense of Atlanta security guard Richard Jewell, who was breathlessly named as a suspect in the 1996 Olympic bombing before being quickly cleared. Jewell later sued several news organizations, including CNN, Cox Enterprises and NBC. Most of the lawsuits were settled, but the one against the Atlanta Journal Constitution is ongoing.

Wood also represented John and Patsy Ramsey and their son, who were initially suspected of being involved in daughter JonBenet’s 1996 killing in one of the country’s most infamous unsolved cases.

Wood went so far as to file a multimillion-dollar libel lawsuit against the tabloid Star publication on behalf of the Ramsey’s 12-year-old son Burke, according to Editor and Publisher.

He also represented the plaintiff in the civil action during the 2004 sexual assault case against basketball player Kobe Bryant, which was ultimately settled.

In the political realm, Wood represented ex-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), who was questioned in the 2001 disappearance and death of intern Chandra Levy. Another man, Ingmar Guandique, was convicted of first-degree murder in the case last year.

Wood also represented Beth Holloway, whose daughter Natalee’s May 2005 disappearance in Aruba, provoked wall-to-wall media coverage.

Wood was also on the case of of Howard K. Stern, the late Anna Nicole Smith’s boyfriend and the father of her child, as well as The Estate of Anna Nicole Smith “in matters relating to theft of estate property and defamation,” according to his law firm biography.

The biography also cites Wood’s representation of corporate clients such as SunTrust, The Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., and AirTran.