With a down-to-earth, gentle nature that understates his remarkable record in criminal-defense law, Gerry Krovatin stands out as one of the field's best-known and accomplished attorneys. Indeed, the Plainfield, N.J., native is widely regarded by his peers as Northern New Jersey's leading independent practitioner of white-collar criminal-defense law - an exacting and well-prepared trial attorney who receives dozens of case referrals each year, and takes on only a fraction of those. The eldest of six boys, Krovatin (pronounced Kro-VAY-tin) went to Columbia University as an undergraduate (where he met his wife of 26 years, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anna Quindlen), and after law school joined Newark-based Lowenstein Sandler, long regarded as among the top three firms in the state. There, Matt Boylan, the one-time director of the state's Division of Criminal Justice, recognized Krovatin's natural skills - for preparation and attention to detail, among others - and handed him complex cases that got him in the courtroom early. By 1983 Krovatin was a partner. Remarkably, entering his professional prime in the mid 90s, Krovatin left Lowenstein ("I felt I'd had a good run, like a good Broadway show") and joined fellow criminal attorney Jack Arseneault; in 2000 Krovatin launched his own practice, returning to the Chicago-style pre-war Gothic skyscraper at Newark's 744 Broad Street that had once housed Lowenstein and other prestigious firms. Over the last two decades Krovatin has tackled some tough high-profile cases -including the second murder trial of N.J. State Trooper Harry Helduser (Krovatin won his client an acquittal; Helduser's holster now hangs on Krovatin's wall.). Peers says Krovatin keeps a tireless schedule (he has three associates, a team that handles 50-100 cases each year) and has a constant presence at the region's federal courthouses. In some respects Krovatin is a throwback - handsome but unflashy somewhat modest, he's a dedicated family man; not long ago he moved his family to Manhattan so his children could be closer to the schools they attended. Other than some weekends at a Pennsylvania retreat house, Krovatin's focus is his work and family, while maintaining a progressive eye on the future. Says he: "My friends are trying to get me out on a golf course, and I just might go for it."