When it comes to practicing law, Bill Osterndorf can say it's in his blood.

Osterndorf, who has practiced law in New Canaan for the last 20 years, has a strong family background in the business.

"I had a lot of attorneys in my family," Osterndorf said. "I was just exposed to the law environment at a young age."

It isn't Osterndorf's family history that makes him feel confident he is the best man for the job, however.

"There was a comparison [of candidates' probate caseload] done in one of the newspapers and my numbers more than doubled what the other candidates have," Osterndorf said. "The numbers don't reflect the variety of the work I've done; there are a lot of other things we do and I've been involved in all of that," Osterndorf said.

Where Osterndorf excels in probate experience, he lacks political office experience; a deficiency Osterndorf doesn't view as being an issue.

"Because we're elected, that makes it somewhat political," Osterndorf said, "but the probate court is a non-political job."

What matters most, he said, is the experience the winning candidate will bring to the position, not who they know.

"What voters need to realize is the diversity of the experience I have," Osterndorf said.

He also said his courtroom demeanor makes him a strong candidate.

"I just think I have the right temperament; I'm a very calm, level-headed person. ... It will be important to them [clients] to look at the judge and think that guy is going to be fair," Osterndorf said. "I think they would find it very comforting."

Osterndorf, who made a bid for the position back in 2000, but was defeated by the current New Canaan probate judge, Russel A. Kimes. Osterndorf said he learned a lot from the experience and he is bringing those lessons to his campaign. Gaining name recognition has been high on Osterndorf's list of priorities because he said even though he has contacts in New Canaan, he doesn't have as many in Darien. However, Osterndorf is trying not to overwhelm voters with his presence.

"I'm trying not to overdo it because you don't want people to see your face and say `not him again,'" Osterndorf said.

The role of probate judge is one that deals with sensitive issues, something Osterndorf feels he is uniquely qualified to handle. "One of the hardest situations is the involuntary commitment proceedings where you have people who check themselves into Silver Hill Hospital for a variety of reasons, then want to leave after a couple of days," Osterndorf said. "The hospital files a petition to keep them there and I find those decisions the hardest to make."

With time running out before the Republican Primary on Aug. 10, Osterndorf is confident he is the right man for the job.

"I've worked with the courts and I know the personnel," Osterndorf said. "My experience far outweighs that of the other candidates."