Brimming with energy and ideas, Leonard Leeds is one of the highest-profile and most successful employment attorneys in the New York area. His shrewd instincts - particularly in politics and handling the media - have helped him build one of the area's most best-known and expansive practices in employment law. The Hempstead native knew early on what he wanted to do: As a teen, he'd hop a bus to the courthouse in Mineola -- just to watch lawyers in action. His hero was Perry Mason. After graduating from Hofstra and NYU Law Schools, Leeds worked for the Nassau County District Attorney's office. But when a wrongful termination suit involving hundreds of FBI and Secret Service agents crossed his desk, he knew he'd found his calling. Returning home, Leeds became one of the area's first attorneys to specialize in workplace discrimination and wrongful discharge cases. In the past three years alone, Leeds and his firm have handled more than 2,000 such cases, including the $1.5 million award for a Nassau County corrections officer who was harassed by coworkers and supervisors because he is homosexual. (Leeds has even appeared on Page Six of The NY Post, when he represented Gwyneth Paltrow's hairstyling assistant, who'd been fired.) Today he leads a 15-attorney firm, but he remains an active litigator. "I love being in front of the jury," he says. "I love the process, building the tension to the point where I rip my jacket off -- figuratively, of course." Leeds is active in the Democratic Party, serving on Nassau County Commissioner Tom Suozzi's transition team.