It is as though our founding father, Orsamus H. Marshall, personally recruited Fred Attea, for he was the living embodiment of Marshall’s convictions: “welcome great trusts and responsibilities, and fulfill them with the utmost skill and fidelity when counseling and protecting our clients, and in serving our communities.”
Fred’s accomplishments over the course of the 57 years he was an attorney at Phillips Lytle came naturally. He was a passionate and tireless advocate for his clients – focusing all of his energy and his entire being on achieving the greatest results on their behalf. His legal craftsmanship has been recognized not only by those clients who were fortunate enough to be represented by him, but also by his colleagues and his peers, and the many Phillips Lytle partners who he so effectively mentored as young attorneys. Fred was a quick study and had a mind like a steel trap – able to assess the most complex transactions and identify dozens of scenarios that would ultimately lead to the greatest outcome for his clients. He could have easily led a team of the most elite attorneys in the nation, but he chose to leave his mark here in the Buffalo Niagara region, where his powerful influence has been felt far and wide.
Fred often shared with the new associates that his clients were his friends, and his friends were his clients – and he was the proudest of that. Fred had a natural talent for making connections in the business community – always thinking about how to facilitate another successful venture. But it was never just about business – ever. It was about becoming personally involved in the lives of his clients and their families that gave Fred the greatest pleasure. To his clients, peers and colleagues, he was a beacon of friendship. And that friendship spanned many continents. Fred was instrumental in establishing the firm’s relationship with LawExchange International – a network of independent law firms from around the world. He never missed an opportunity to proudly wave the Phillips Lytle flag, traveling to numerous countries to reconnect with his dear friends from around the globe. One such friend, after meeting him for the first time, was struck by his endearing attributes – his warmth; dedication to his firm, family and clients; passion for the law; intellect; and drive.
Fred’s passion did not stop with his legal work. He made it his life’s mission to help others. His quiet generosity was experienced by countless educational institutions and nonprofit organizations across the Buffalo Niagara region, as well as countless members of the Phillips Lytle family. Never once did he expect credit or acknowledgment; Fred did what he did out of the goodness of his heart. He simply needed to hear of an individual at the firm who was struggling financially or emotionally, and he selflessly gave without so much as an ask. His sharing of his time, talents and treasures was legendary.
As successful and accomplished as Fred was, he never missed an opportunity to talk about his family. He beamed when he spoke of his wife, sons, daughters and grandchildren, and he cherished the time that he spent with them. And right beside the importance of his family, was his faith. His best friend said it so well: “Fred wore his faith on his sleeve.” He loved his church with conviction – it was not unusual to sit down and have a conversation with him about the importance of prayer.
And last, but certainly not least, are the attorneys who learned their craft from this legal giant. The attorneys who worked with Fred have recounted the numerous hours sitting across the table from him while poring over documents. He would inquire as to why a document was drafted in a certain way, and would then proceed to explain all the alternatives that should be considered. Those who were close to Fred knew of his proclivity for watches – always eager to display his newest find. Despite that proclivity, his colleagues have commented on more than one occasion that they were sure he never checked his watch, as it was in the normal course of events to receive a call from Fred at 1:00 a.m., anxious to discuss details of the transaction in which they were deeply involved. Whether you were a partner or a first-year attorney, Fred’s fervor for teaching was limitless.
There are people who touch your life and others who change it forever. Fred Attea was one of the rare few who did both. Brilliant. Creative. Funny. Sensitive. Passionate. Private. Spiritual. Humble. Remarkable. Iconic. Someone you come across only once in a lifetime. A true blessing.
As a dear friend shared, Fred's character and values are instilled in all of us – indelible and eternal. His spirit will be with us each and every day.