Still in his 30s, North Jersey's Darren Del Sardo has established himself as one of the top young trial lawyers in the region, whose Passaic County-based practice spans employment law as well as civil litigation. In an age in which it's difficult for a 30-something lawyer to gain courtroom experience - as fewer cases reach jury trials -- Del Sardo has charted an exceptional course: At 38 he has a record and reputation typical of much more senior lawyers, and he's already an astute observer of New Jersey's legal terrain. In fact he has tried cases from Atlantic City to Jersey City, a professional range rare for any lawyer. Fellow lawyers speak highly of Del Sardo's low-key but intensely competitive nature, especially during trial cross examinations, when he "really goes after people," a peer says. He recently won a multi-million-dollar verdict on behalf of a group of Hudson County workers facing workplace discrimination by one of the country's largest property-management firms. Growing up in Wayne, N.J., Del Sardo said he was encouraged by his parents to pursue a profession and take advantage of his natural leadership skills. He excelled at Newman Prep, the respected high school that, until its closure in 1991, had been a fixture of Passaic County secondary education. Del Sardo recalls winning moot court and debating competitions even then, a reflection of a natural desire to question rules and authority, "not something students were inclined to do at a church-run parochial school." He went on Seton Hall and majored in psychology and political science, but "nothing really grabbed me academically" until he went to law school, which he found stimulating from the start. "The real-world, practical applications of case law were fascinating," and he was hooked. Further, Touro Law Center of Long Island attracted talented instructors who were also working lawyers, reinforcing the practical rather than the theoretical. Like many young lawyers eager to enter the courtroom, Del Sardo envisioned becoming a criminal-defense lawyer. But a course in employment law spurred him to worker-related litigation - "every case has its own set of unique and powerful facts," he says. He clerked for a year for Passaic County Superior Court Judge Frank Donato ("We still call each other"), giving him early insights into the civil litigation process. He joined a 12-lawyer practice based in Passaic, where he obtained immediate courtroom experience on high profile civil and criminal cases. Yet in less than three years Del Sardo and two partners launched their own practice, today based in Woodland Park, formerly West Paterson, NJ. Del Sardo's practice consists of about half employment litigation, with criminal defense and personal injury claims as well as business and commercial litigation making up the remainder. He's in court upwards of three days a week. For a lawyer still early in his career Del Sardo receives a large number of referrals, allowing him to be selective - and thus more likely to be successful with their outcomes. Del Sardo spends much time with his son, Darren Jr. They live in Wayne, N.J.