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What's your walk-up song?

 

By Jennifer Thompson

Some might recall that my first President’s Page started with a baseball metaphor—“ducks on the pond.” It was about feeling excitement for the work of the coming bar year. Now, as we head toward the bottom of the ninth, I want to end with one final nod to baseball: the walk-up song. For those unfamiliar, a walk-up song is music played as a hitter walks up to bat, or a pitcher takes the mound, that serves to introduce the player. The roots of walk-up music are said to lie with a 1970s organist for the Chicago White Sox who played a few bars of organ music for whoever was coming up to bat. Today, players select their own walk-up music and spend significant time planning and selecting the same.

 

Walk-up music tells a story and sets a stage. Maybe you’ve seen the movie Major League, where the bullpen door opens and Charlie Sheen’s character, pitcher Ricky Vaughn, saunters out while the song “Wild Thing” blares over the public address system and the entire stadium erupts. “Wild Thing” charges up the crowd, which of course comes at a pivotal moment in the game, and the song describes Vaughn’s fiery, untamed approach to most things. It is the gold standard in walk-up music.

 

While not professional baseball players, we are professionals. We may not command stadiums with our batting prowess and acrobatic fielding, but we certainly command courtrooms and boardrooms and Zoom rooms. We provide bright and thoughtful counsel. We use our charisma and skills to set the tone in a court appearance, a phone call, or an email. Sometimes we knock it out of the park when everything is on the line or zing a fastball straight down the middle, paralyzing our opponent. Our work often energizes and excites those around us. It only seems right, therefore, that lawyers, too, should have their own walk-up music.

 

Earlier this bar year, I asked some of the MSBA leadership to think about what they would choose for their walk-up song. It was meant to be a fun team-building exercise and an icebreaker for the new bar year. It proved to be both of these things—and more than that. Remember, walk-up music sets a stage and tells a story, and the songs that were selected did just that. For instance, one of the songs set the stage for the “Respect” (Aretha Franklin) that lawyers work hard to earn. One of the songs told the story of the recognition of being so good at one’s job, they were actually “Bad” (Michael Jackson). Another song shared how the trials and tribulations of our intense work, even when so difficult, make us “Stronger” (Kelly Clarkson). Some songs shared stories about our life and work outside of law, some shared details about the work we hoped to accomplish as lawyers, and some shared motivations and experiences that led us to become lawyers. Some songs were in English, while others were not. The songs were rich and diverse just like the rich and diverse backgrounds, goals, and work styles that we all bring to the profession. The playlist of these walk-up songs can be found here. I encourage you to give it a listen and, if you’re inclined, I’d love to hear from you about what your walk-up song would be when the door opens and you walk into the room. I’d be happy to make additions to the playlist.

 

As this bar year comes to an end, I am thinking about the story that’s been told and the stage that is set for the next year. When I walked up to the plate last July, I imagined it was to the building guitar riff of “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. As I approach my last at-bat, I’m changing my walk-up song to Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It.” And while these days it is customary for baseball players to select their own walk-up music, I’ll exercise a last moment of presidential prerogative by suggesting a song to welcome the MSBA’s next president, Paul Peterson, to the plate: “Here Comes the Boom” (E-Force, Sub Zero Project). Now that’s a good way to end a season.


 

JENNIFER THOMPSON is a founding partner of the Edina construction law firm TTLO Law. She has also served on the Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company board of directors since 2019.

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