Ducks on the pond

By Jennifer Thompson

0721-Ducks-on-the-pond-400My husband, Tony, also an attorney, likes to say that he knew we were meant to be during a date to watch the Minnesota Twins play in the spring of 2001. The Twins were rebuilding a team that no one knew. Their marketing strategy involved introducing each of the key players to fans by teaching us such things as how to spell “Mientkiewicz.” As Tony and I sat watching the game that day, I shouted seven words that he maintains sealed the deal for him—“C’mon! We’ve got ducks on the pond!”

“Ducks on the pond” refers to runners on second and third base who are in scoring position. It’s the cheer used to encourage the batter to drive in multiple runs with a single hit. The baserunners are the “ducks,” and the base path is the “pond.” It’s a cheer used when opportunity is great and solid contact can yield big results. It’s meant to point out the possibilities that exist and how even seemingly small, strategic effort can be meaningful. The batter doesn’t need to hit a bomb of a home run. “Ducks on the pond” is a cheer about excitement for what comes next, and about capitalizing on the work that’s already been performed to get a team into an advantageous position. The emphasis is on teamwork.

Opportunity. Excitement. Capitalizing on the strong foundation already in place. Teamwork. Beyond baseball, as our world and our profession emerge from the pandemic, these words certainly also ring true for the possibilities that exist for the MSBA in the next year. C’mon! We’ve got ducks on the pond!

The year ahead

While it has been difficult to do many traditional things in the past year (or, perhaps better said, to do many things traditionally), the MSBA has been working hard to live its mission of promoting the highest standards of excellence and inclusion within the legal profession, providing valued resources to its members, and striving to improve the law and the equal administration of justice for all. The work done this past year has put the MSBA in a position of great opportunity for the 2021-2022 bar year, and the excitement is palpable.

Heading into the new bar year, for instance, the MSBA is poised to help lead our profession into the first year of lawyers reporting hours of pro bono service and financial contributions to organizations that provide legal services to people of limited means. This will help our profession gain valuable information about how we are living out our ethical aspirations of helping to bridge the gap in access to justice. Additionally, with the expected return of in-person programing later in the year, we will be ready to greet our members in Greater Minnesota with our very popular One Profession programs, where we will continue to tackle issues of importance to members around the state, such as attracting and retaining lawyers in rural practice. The MSBA is also primed to continue its diversity, equity, and inclusion work, which includes implementing the MSBA’s 2021-2024 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan; supporting, amplifying, and collaborating with our affinity bar partners; and striving to promote and foster a justice system that is fair, inclusive, and equitable, while recognizing and honoring that the system has failed to be these things for many.

This past year has been trying, discombobulating, uncomfortable, hard. And it has also been a year where the MSBA-—staff, leadership, sections, committees and councils, and members—have been hard at work, setting us up for this moment. We don’t need a big home run. Because of the impressive work of so many over the past year, simple, solid contact is going to reap very significant results.

Some might think that my cheer in the spring of 2001 sealed the deal for Tony simply because it highlighted our shared interest in a sport and a team. Maybe. But, also, I think my cheer highlighted our shared desire to live in that moment where we clearly see the possibilities unfolding in front of us and to encourage seizing the moment. That’s true in baseball. It’s true for the MSBA, too. This year, I’m looking forward to our driving those ducks home. 

JENNIFER THOMPSON is a founding partner of the Edina construction law firm Thompson Tarasek Lee-O’Halloran PLLC. She has also served on the Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company board of directors since 2019.