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Inside stories: Marking 51 years in the law

Inside stories: Marking 51 years in the law

By Jonathan Tisher

Interviews Legal Biography 


Property lawyer Frank Tisher has been practising for more than half a century. Jonathan Tisher looks back at his father’s career.

It is rare that a person practises in the law for more than 50 years doing what they love, but that has been the case for my father Frank Tisher as 2019 marks his 51st year in the law.

Frank commenced his articles in 1968 with Abbot Stillman & Wilson, opened his own practice in 1970 under the name Frank Tisher & Associates and in 1972, co-founded Tisher Liner & Co with Dennis Liner in Market Street. 

In 1979, Alan Goldstone joined the partnership and for 24 years Dennis, Alan and Frank were the three partners of the firm Tisher Liner & Co. Subsequently, Simon Abraham and I joined the partnership and in 2013, Tisher Liner & Co merged with FC Law (which was operated by Michael Fetter and Ron Cohen) to form Tisher Liner FC Law. 

Fifty one years later, at 75 years of age, Frank is still happily practising as a partner at Tisher Liner FC Law, a Victorian firm with approximately 70 staff. 

Over the years, Frank has seen many changes, both in the law and technology. Some of these changes include the introduction of no fault divorce pursuant to the Family Law Act, the establishment of the Australian Trade Practices Commission (precursor to the ACCC) and no fault compensation for people in motor vehicle accidents. He has also seen tremendous changes in technology, from the use of typewriters, carbon paper and fax machines to computers, photocopiers and the ever-evolving internet presence in which property conveyancing settlements occur as an electronic process. Frank has continued to adapt to these major advances and changes to his practice.

Now, at Frank's age, many people would be seriously thinking of retiring if they haven’t already. But not Frank. Expect to receive emails, text messages or copies of relevant articles in the paper from Frank after hours, at weekends or even from holiday destinations as he reviews contracts and analyses the property deal at stake. 

The question is what has led to Frank’s longevity and passion in a competitive industry that is continually changing? There are a number of answers. 

First undoubtedly is his personality. Frank is larger than life. He is personable and has a genuine and passionate interest in property law. For him it is not just about looking at the contract but really understanding the transaction and forming a rapport with the client. He cares deeply and is available at all hours. He is loyal to his clients, partners and staff. This has allowed him to develop a strong and dedicated following. 

A second factor is that he has been in a secure, supporting partnership with individuals who are also his friends and who have integrity in their dealings. His guiding philosophy has been to create an environment where clients and staff are cared for and supported. He has supported the firm’s commitment to pro bono work to various community organisations (such as old age homes, sporting clubs, museums and religious institutions) as a part of his philosophy. 

Frank-tisher-simon-jonathan-Marking-51-years-in-the-lawFinding a balance of work, family and the community has also been a large factor. It has kept Frank in a positive frame of mind. He has always managed to juggle carrying out diverse activities, such as significant community work for Emmy Monash Home Aged Care (which led to an OAM award in June 2016), regular travel, as well spending time with his family and friends. He has two sons and a son-in-law in the law, which means that he has catch-up lunches with these family members and gets to combine two things he loves – the law and his family. His eldest son Simon is a barrister at the Victorian Bar. His son-in-law Ben Morawetz, a lawyer by training, is with the ACCC. I am the middle child and one of his partners at the firm. We have worked closely with each other for almost 20 years. His daughter Ruth is a clinical psychologist, as is his wife Miriam. Frank also loves spending time with his eight grandchildren, taking them to the footy to watch his beloved Demons, reading with them at school and telling them stories.

It has been a privilege to work with him over the years. Coming to work with your father is a gamble. If it goes wrong, there is more than just a working relationship at stake. But it has been a fantastic experience. Frank was originally my mentor and teacher and then over time, I became a partner. He has respect for all opinions and a wealth of knowledge. On an almost weekly basis, we will pass each other's office, suggest lunch, and then spend an hour over a pasta talking about difficult cases, sport, travel or Frank's grandchildren. It is very special.

Today, if you mention Frank’s name to a developer or real estate agent, they will likely know of him and his reputation. He is a highly regarded property law specialist and was part of the first intake of lawyers who passed the property law specialist accreditation set by the LIV. 

We hope that Frank, a giant in the property law profession, continues to practise for many more years to come, doing what he loves.

Congratulations on 51 years in the law, Dad.

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