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Jennifer Thompson
Attorney wellness and equity top Jennifer Thompson’s agenda as 2021-2022 president of the Minnesota State Bar Association. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: MSBA president pursues well-being, equity issues

Name: Jennifer Thompson

Title: Partner, TTLO Law

Education: B.A., history and political science, University of Minnesota; J.D., Hamline University School of Law

When a Nerf gun and pillow fight between Jennifer Thompson’s sons spilled into the background of her video feed during an online conference, she took some consolation in the supportive comments she received.

The episode, like countless others that parents endured on pandemic-related lockdown, foiled the efforts of Thompson, a founding partner of TTLO Law, an Edina-based firm specializing in construction and real estate law, to keep her personal life out of view.

But it strengthened her resolve to keep attorney wellness and equity atop her agenda as 2021-2022 president of the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA).

To that end, Thompson said, the MSBA will petition the Minnesota Supreme Court for amendments to the Rules of General Practice, Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure to facilitate attorneys’ personal leave requests for certain health conditions, the birth or adoption of a child or the serious illness or death of a family or household member.

As a woman attorney and especially one in male-dominated construction law, Thompson has “always felt some sort of pressure to keep all my personal life personal for the well-being of my professional life.”

But the pandemic made that impossible. “We saw each other as human beings that have messy and complicated and hard lives outside of our professional lives,” Thompson said.

MSBA’s 13,000 members represent roughly half of the state’s licensed attorneys, according to the organization.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: I love cooking and trying new restaurants. If you’ve tried something new or if you like to cook, I’m all over talking about that. Otherwise, two of my favorite things are sports and “The Sopranos.”

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: The first time I had an interest in law school, it was really because I watched Corbin Bernsen play attorney Arnie Becker on “L.A. Law.” I saw that, I was young and I was like, “I want to do that.” I wish I had some altruistic or deeply touching story about it.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: I admit this to other lawyers and they can’t understand it, but I really don’t like reading that much. I do enjoy reading new recipes and thinking about new ingredients.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: When people truly aren’t listening. You’ve got to take your time and truly listen and try and hear the other person.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Collaborating and problem solving. Working with my partners or other people in my firm to problem-solve and really think through some things. Strategizing. Here’s the issue, what are the different ways we could deal with it? What’s the best way to deal with it? And arguing in court. I love arguing in court.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Tracking time. Facing the timekeeper.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Anything sporty or athletic. I like playing sports or watching them. I like spending time with my kids and my extended family. I have three sisters, a dad who we spend a lot of time with, and then also my in-laws and my sisters-in-law. And cooking.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: One of my absolute favorite things is to be on the bridge that separates the lake from the lagoon on Lake Nokomis at sunset and to look west and watch the planes coming into land at MSP airport with a really nice, pink sunset sky.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: That because you’re a lawyer, you must know everything about the law or that there’s some simple way to find the answer to every legal question. Like there’s a special Google for lawyers that you can just put your question in and you easily get your answer.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: “Better Call Saul,” “Damages” and “The Good Wife.”

 

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