A partner now at the renowned family-law firm of Gassman, Baiamonte Betts PC, Rockville Centre native Josh Gruner has already emerged as one of Long Island's more talented young divorce attorneys. He's regarded as a capable and effective litigator, as well as negotiator, with a calm, imperturbable nature that's served him - and his clients - well. Now in his early 40s, Gruner has rightly earned his position as the youngest partner of Stephen Gassman's prestigious practice, itself among the leading divorce-law boutiques in the state. In many respects Gruner is one of a new generation of young Long Island lawyers grounded in the challenges of 21st Century divorce - among other strategies, he steers clients away from social media during their proceedings, and he independently verifies easily-modified electronic records, something not all lawyers do. He maintains good relations too with the entire Long Island divorce bar; peers give him high marks for preparedness and professionalism. "I pride myself in getting along well with adversaries," says Gruner. "That doesn't make anyone a pushover, or any less effective as an advocate." Growing up in Rockville Centre, Gruner attended South Side High School and enjoyed "that strong community upbringing anyone who's ever grown up on Long Island knows well." He went off to The University of Delaware, in part for "a great mix of people" but also to get "far enough away to feel that I'd gone somewhere different." He majored initially in psychology, but all the required science courses "made me realize my strengths were in writing and analysis," and switched to political science. By then, too, "I knew I wanted to go to law school." He returned to Hofstra Law, which offered Gruner substantial incentives to attend - and "living at home made it, in a practical sense, an easy call." An early and important mentor: Andrew Schepard, editor of The Family Court Review and today a Hofstra Law dean. Gruner says Schepard introduced him to the specialty, and he never really considered any other after that. He participated in, and helped develop, family-law clinics and PEACE - Parent Education and Custody Effectiveness. While still in law school he was already receiving awards for his contributions. "I just felt I had the right temperament for family law," says Gruner, adding, "The people who influenced me early on were first-rate." He joined a small Mineola firm focused on commercial and family litigation; many of the firm's family law cases were assigned to him. "After a few years, I earned a reputation as a young lawyer who knew what he was doing." In early 2005 one of Stephen Gassman's partners vied with Gruner on a case; by that summer Gruner was offered a position at the firm, which has long been known for handling complex, high-stakes and contentious cases. Since then Gruner has continued to develop as a lawyer, and as the youngest of four partners, and with excellent writing skills, he has contributed to the firm's serious-minded and productive culture. Not surprisingly Gruner and his wife bought a house in Rockville Centre, where "a lot of today's parents are people I once went to elementary school with." He still plays pickup basketball, but most of his time away from the office he and wife enjoy being with their two young sons, ages 9 and 6.