Brian Neary possesses those unique qualities of the best criminal defense attorneys: The 58-year old Jersey City native has authentic street-wise instincts and a nearly ironclad grasp of the law, fellow attorneys say. Thoughtful, fast thinking and personable, Neary is well known and well respected around the courthouses of Northern New Jersey, particularly those in Hudson and Bergen counties, where he and his trademark bow-tie have been a fixture for more than 25 years. Growing up, Neary says he was something of a closet scholar: "I loved playing basketball in the school yards all over Jersey City and Bayonne, but when I wasn't I was reading." That kind of double life paid off: A point guard for Hudson Catholic, Neary went to Notre Dame, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. (Neary was hardly the only achiever in his family: His sisters became doctors and bankers). After NYU law school, Neary was hired as an assistant prosecutor in Hudson and then Bergen County. He spent four valuable years learning the intricacies of the rules of evidence and cross-examination; by his third year he was lead prosecutor on sex crimes and child abuse cases. In 1982 - in his early 30's - Neary launched his own practice, where he built his reputation as a versatile and effective criminal-defense attorney. Though he handles cases from street crimes, white-collar crime cases and even drunk-driving cases, Neary has also represented such celebrities as Wilson Pickett, rapper DMX and former NBA star Jayson Williams. Neary has long taken seriously his role as "teacher," serving as a Rutgers Law professor and appearing on and consulting to several television programs focused on criminal law. As a veteran commentator, he's almost wistful about the on-air changes: "I've always taken my role as TV commentator seriously. My job is to examine and enlighten, not simply argue for the sake of argument." Recently, Neary opened bright and spacious offices in the historic Hoboken Land Building, further raising his Hudson County profile. Neary, married to soap opera actress and director Lisa Brown, recently returned to live in his hometime Jersey City; they have four children.