Bruce Stern is one of the most productive, efficient -- and successful -- trial attorneys in the region. Extremely knowledgeable and capable, his hard work and aggressive representation of his clients make the 47-year-old Stern an influential force within the 85-attorney Stark & Stark as well as throughout the legal profession as a whole. Indeed, the Mercer County native last year served as president of ATLA-NJ, and as such has been at the forefront of major policy debates, including the national battle over medical malpractice reform. It's been a fast track for the fast-thinking Stern: An attorney is "all I ever wanted to be," he says. At 28 he was the youngest certified civil trial attorney in the state. Over the years, Stern developed new theories of the law, particularly relating to obtaining economic recovery and representing clients with acquired brain injuries. He is widely regarded as one of today's leading experts on brain-injury litigation in the nation. "I've always been academically inclined, and interested in science," says Stern, a graduate of Duke and the nearby Lawrenceville School. He joined Stark & Stark in the late '80s, when it had only 33 attorneys; today it is one of the leading firms in the region, with three offices, thanks in part to Stern. Rivals and colleagues alike say that Stern, now in his professional prime, represents some of the New Jersey trial bar's most important ideals, values and skills; "His record as a trial lawyer gives him a lot of integrity," says one rival. Today he focuses on "neurolaw", auto and construction accident claims, product liability, and other areas of personal and catastrophic injury. Stern and his wife live in Pennington with their daughters, 13-year-old Emily and 16-year-old Courtney. He is an avid golfer.