Tribute to Well-Known Industry Lawyer Bryan Friedman
We are overdue in sharing a tribute for industry lawyer Bryan Friedman of FSG Lawyers who passed away in November after a bout with cancer.
A native of South Africa, Bryan, who eventually settled in Orange County, helped a wide range of action sports companies and was an industry mainstay.
Here at SES, we will miss seeing Bryan at industry events and are sending our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
We asked a few colleagues and clients for their memories of Bryan, and we share them below.
“Bryan Friedman was an industry pioneer – the man behind the scenes of numerous action sports and California lifestyle brands beginning in the early 1980s.”
“Born and raised in South Africa, Bryan practiced law there for 10 years before moving to California. Bryan’s operational knowledge of the apparel business was unmatched. He was renowned for his sound, yet practical counsel making him ‘the guy to see’ for business/legal advice whether you were a garage start-up or multinational company. He was astonishingly generous with his time and advice – he truly enjoyed helping businesses and individuals achieve their full potential.”
“But more impressive than his industry prowess, Bryan was an amazing friend to his clients and colleagues. Never one to miss an opportunity for a quip, we will miss his dry, quick-witted humor. Bryan was a wonderful partner, an awesome mentor, a trusted advisor, a fierce advocate and a die-hard Manchester United fan. His shoes can never be filled. As one of the founding partners of FSG LAWYERS in 1996, Bryan was, and always will be, a beloved member of the FSG LAWYERS family.”
“Co-founder, James D. Stroffe, had this to say about Bryan: ‘I was both lucky and privileged to have had Bryan as a partner for the past 26 years. He was a true partner in both the business and the practice. I have had other partners and will likely have new ones in the future, but partners like Bryan are one in a million. You can’t replace Bryan Friedman. His passing is a great loss not only for our FSG family, but for the industry. He will be missed.’”
“Bryan is survived by his wife, Sandy, two sons, Marc and Jason, Jason’s wife, Eleanor, and their daughter, Romeyn, his sister Gremi Joffe and her family, his brother-in-law, Paul Stubbs and his family, along with numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.”
Joel Cooper – Gotcha Co-Founder, Lost Co-Owner, and Bryan’s cousin
“Bryan and I were cousins, friends, and business associates for over 50 years.”
“Bryan was my older cousin and I looked up to him. Our families both lived in Johannesburg. I then moved to Durban, and Bryan moved there after graduating from law school and opened up his own law practice.”
“When Michael Tomson and I started Gotcha in 1979, we hired Bryan as our attorney, and 43 years later, he remained our attorney.”
“As any of his many clients will attest, Bryan was more than an attorney, however. His rational way of thinking and his calm demeanor made him a brilliant negotiator. His clients loved him – he was a shoulder to lean on and someone you could bounce your ideas off of.”
“Bryan was totally dedicated to his family – he loved his wife tremendously, and guided his two sons through life and was very involved in their journey. I will miss him tremendously.”
Robert Gerard, a former law partner of Bryan’s who is currently a superior court judge
“I’m heartbroken that my amazing friend of 32 years and law partner of 20-plus years is gone. Bryan was an OG in the exploding surf industry of the early 1980s and beyond, and was referred to by many as the godfather of legal issues in the surf industry. Many well-known surf and action sports companies owe part (and in some cases much) of their success to Bryan’s wise counsel and guiding hand.”
“As for me, he was a mentor and dear friend who taught me more than I could ever begin to explain. Life will not be the same without Bryan’s cheery South African voice asking me, ‘So mate, how are Robin and the groms, and what’s on your mind today?’”
“Fair winds and following seas my dear friend. And of course, sending love and prayers to Bryan’s awesome wife, Sandy, and sons Marc and Jason. I can’t imagine the loss of their larger-than-life husband and father.”
Paul Naude – CEO/Owner of Stokehouse, home to Vissla, Sisstrevolution, and Amuse Society
“Bryan was a behind-the-scenes mentor to so many in the boardsports industry for four decades. Whether it was startup companies, non-profits or big brands, Bryan’s legal guiding hand and open, friendly disposition was valued by so many.”
“He will be sorely missed. He was a really good man.”
Steve Douglas – Skateboard industry veteran who has founded or worked at a variety of companies including Giant Distribution, Element, 411 Video Magazine, Dwindle Distribution and more
“Bryan helped us over the years 1990-2001, and was our lawyer for Giant Skateboard Distribution and 411 Video magazine. Football (soccer) was always discussed first, and with him being a lifelong Manchester United fan and me being a lifelong Chelsea fan, the banter between us was good.”
“When it came to legal matters, Bryan was always calm and he always had great little side stories to support the approaches he thought we should take. They always made sense. He was my ‘go to’ and just this past March, he helped out on one of my new companies, Rolling Thunder.”
“My last text to him was August 21st when I asked him how he was doing. His response was, ‘About as well as United!! Getting a bit tiresome. Hope all is well with you.’”
“Bryan had a dry sense of humor. That showed at his memorial service when the photo slideshow came on, and then it broke it into the classic last scene from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ movie with the song ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.’ It made me chuckle.”
“Bryan, the industry will miss you. I know I already do.”