Darrow was one of the two leading defense attorneys who represented Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone. He began his legal career in Ohio, then moved to Chicago where he became a lawyer for the city. He moved on to represent the railroad. At the time of the Pullman Strike in 1894, he asked management of the railroad that he not be required to oppose the striking railroad workers. He was released from doing so, and represented Eugene Debs, the President of the American Railway Union. In 1904, he helped the anthracite coal workers in Pennsylvania during the federal arbitration that resolved their strike.
In 1906, he was hired to assist in the defense. Even some of his fellow defense attorneys called him "Old Necessity," after the legal adage: "Necessity knows no law." But, Darrow did know human nature and was a past master of winning juries over to his client's side of the case, as he did in both Haywood and Pettibone's cases.
More importantly, Darrow defused the prosecution's case against Haywood by convincing the prosecution's key witness for corroboration of Orchard's testimony implicating the "inner circle" of the Western Federation of Miners to renounce his confession. This prevented the state from calling this witness, Steve Adams, to testify against Haywood and Pettibone, when they were tried.