Intelligent, feisty and hands-on, Sharon Berlin has proven her leadership role in employment law, both in New York and nationally. Raised in Rockland County, N.Y., in high school she had one of those defining, career-inspiring experiences: She worked part-time in a supermarket, where managers wanted to garnish her wages retroactively to collect union dues. Unbowed, Berlin took on the union - and won. "I had to learn the law, and law was on my side," the attorney says today. In the end, Berlin also won the union scholarship. Berlin later worked as a summer associate for Rains & Pogrebin, already in the thick of the employment-law explosion - and the firm hired her out of law school. Long Island, with its affluent and sophisticated populace, has been the scene of many high-stakes battles. Today rivals and colleagues regard Berlin as an able negotiator and energetic advocate for her clients' positions. With the utmost discretion, she has handled several investigations into allegations of misconduct by top officers of corporations and public entities. More than half of her work is in the public-sector, negotiating contracts and handling general employment issues from grievances and arbitrations to workplace discrimination and harassment. Though a litigator, Berlin is increasingly consulting to her clients - serving as a hands-on advisor to improve work cultures. "It's about having an impact on a workplace before lawsuits get filed," she says. One early case she handled involved a surly school bus driver with a twenty-plus year unblemished record who "tried to teach fourth graders a lesson" by stopping on rail tracks, as a train approached. Naturally, the school district wanted the employee fired - but in the face of worker protections that wasn't so easy. Still, Berlin prevailed. In another case, a school board wanted to fire its superintendent and the superintendent challenged the board's decision in a highly public manner. Ultimately, Berlin helped facilitate a resolution satisfactory to all. Today she covers the employment law spectrum while representing management in the private and public sector. In early 2004, when Rains and Pogrebin, P.C., one of the nation's original employment-law practices, dissolved, Berlin joined Lamb & Barnosky, LLP, Suffolk County's largest commercial law firm. She is one of 16 partners. A Mets fan, Berlin lives with her husband and two children in Suffolk County, and enjoys an occasional round of golf.