Introducing Frank Friesacher: Branch President 2018-19

There are so many interesting sides to CBA Alberta’s incoming President Frank Friesacher, that it’s a bit hard to paint the whole picture.

One big part of Frank, is that he is German.  Sometimes, you see rigorous efficiency.  That might explain his academic success, earning Dean’s List standings and other awards along his way to degrees in Arts, Commerce and Law.  After articling with the Court of Appeal and Court of Queen’s Bench, he went on to spend his 18 year legal career at McCuaig Desrochers LLP in estate litigation and family law.

Disciplined efficiency might also explain Frank’s need to click away on his tablet during our firm meetings.  It seemed that agendas, minutes of meetings and footnoted black line comparison versions of documents, all made in real time as we were talking, would arrive on our computers before we even left the meeting room.

But Frank has a laid back side.  I think he blames the Austrian influence on his dad’s side.  You can see him on stage at Heritage Days dressed in lederhosen, folk dancing with The Bavarian Schuhplattlers of Edmonton.  That is where he met his charming wife Loretta, beginning more than 25 years together dancing with the group.  Frank is an accomplished dancer, German or otherwise.  I recall him being in much demand whenever there was a dance floor at a CBA event.

True to his heritage, Frank enjoys German food, beer and soccer.  So devastated was he by Germany’s early departure from the recent World Cup, he took the flag off – you guessed it, his Volkswagen - right after the elimination.  Although a foodie who is enjoying Edmonton’s emerging restaurant scene, he still will always know where to find the best Schnitzel.

He has been involved with more German Canadian organizations than I knew existed.  His 12 year reign as President of The Bavarian Schuhplattlers seems to be turning into a lifetime appointment.  I must ask Frank more about The Blauen Funken German Mardi Gras Association of Edmonton, and his role in it.  

Frank also has a social side.  If you see him in that setting, you will have the pleasure of meeting one of the most engaging, amiable, funny and charming people I know.  He will make it a point to visit with everyone.  And when he does, the interest he shows in you is genuine.  He seems to want to make sure everyone feels welcome, and included.  He does it with warmth and generosity.

Frank is also a bit of a nerd.  I admire this about Frank.  He is, and always has been, a reader.  I’m sure that is why he is so smart.  I marvel at his encyclopedic knowledge about, well, almost everything, from important to trivial.  But what he reads isn’t just left to chance.  Who, for the sake of completeness, decides to methodically read his way through all of the past Booker Prize recipients for literature?  So when Frank tells me he’s on a mission to spread the message that Moby Dick is the greatest work ever written in the English language, I listen.  I just bought it.  

He’s able to quote at will obscure lines from books, poems or movies, always appropriate for the moment.  He has a betting pool with family about which celebrities will die in the coming year, and other major events.  He saw Duran Duran in concert.  He has a framed picture of Charles Darwin in his office.  For Halloween, he dressed up as Bob Ross, the soft spoken TV art instructor on PBS.  He has deeply held views on his distinction between “movies” and “films”, including how great Seven Samurai is, and how much Batman vs Superman sucked.  He dresses with flair.  How can one paint the whole picture of Frank Friesacher?

I am looking forward to the CBA Alberta President side of Frank Friesacher.  During the 16 years we practiced together, he never failed to treat everyone with respect, interest, and care.  He has an infectious enthusiasm for learning, tackling problems and finding solutions.  He wants to hear from all sides.  He believes it makes for decisions that are not only better, but are supported and sustainable.  He looks for new and different perspectives from others.  As CBA Alberta navigates through some structural and governance changes over the next year, it will have the benefit of Frank’s talents for building consensus.

He cares passionately about the profession and the CBA.  He began his journey to CBA junkie-hood while in 3rd year law school.  He has been a fixture with CBA since, in many roles on and off the dance floor.  At our law firm, he kind of straddled two generations of lawyers.  Unfailingly, he wanted to make sure that every person was included and their voice heard, regardless of how old or new to the profession.  I think that too, will be invaluable to CBA Alberta.

We are most fortunate to have all sides of Frank Friesacher for the coming year.

Judge Tom Achtymichuk was the CBA Alberta Branch President from 2002-2003. Prior to being appointed to the Provincial Court of Alberta, Judge Achtymichuk was a Partner with McCuaig Desrochers LLP in Edmonton where he practiced in civil litigation and business law.