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Meet Robynn Ragland of LATHROP GPM

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robynn Ragland – Estate Planning Attorney and Musician.

Hi Robynn, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started with music, with piano lessons at age five. Music was always a natural fixture in my life, no matter where I went or what I did, even when there was no expectation that it would continue to be included. I graduated from high school in Bonn, Germany (when Bonn was West Germany’s capital city) at Bonn American High School, which was part of the DoDDSs military school system. Just before graduating from high school, the two young music/choir directors of the school invited me to join their pop/rock band as its singer and to stay in Germany, play and tour with them, and see where things went. My father was very much against this. So, I ended up a freshman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California the following year as a pre-vet student. Of course, I joined the Cal Poly Choir and participated in Cal Poly’s “London Study” program to study for a quarter in London and tour Great Britain with the choir, not once, but two times during my college career. At the end of my first year, I was also in an original band called “Rhythm Akimbo,” which took over the college town local scene for the next 4 years. Classical voice and piano were also a fixture for me throughout college. Our fabulous choir director, Tom Davies, the best you will ever find, was set on me having a singing career in light opera. My big hoorah upon graduation was my “Senior Recital,” in which I performed four of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words” on piano and four of his classical vocal works. Of course, given I was also in a pop/rock band at the time, at the reception for my recital, my band members and I performed an acapella version of the gospel song “Give Me Jesus on the Line” to a roar of applause. In conjunction with my musical life in college, I changed my pre-vet major. Upon graduation, I decided to pursue a career in law instead of moving to Los Angeles and trying to make it in the entertainment industry. I applied for law school at Washington University in St. Louis, returning to my “homeland,” where both sides of my family were originally from and where my grandparents and many extended relatives still lived. I was drawn to the profession, and I was the first in my family to pursue a career in law. While in law school, I founded the Sports & Entertainment Law Society and served as president and editor-in-chief of our review, but even then, I knew that I did not want to pursue a career in entertainment law. Instead, I loved trusts & estates and knew early on that would be the focus of my practice. This legal area is complex and personal, and I loved the idea of helping people plan and control how the whole of their life’s work, resources, and passions would carry on to impact the people they loved and the principles they believed in after they were gone. I hunkered down during my first year, studied hard, and loved law school. I got my first year under my belt with a myopic focus, and by my second year, I was in a rock band again – which was not necessarily planned but probably inevitable. I was invited to join a band called “Five of These,” which was very much involved in the local St. Louis scene.

During our heyday, we won local music awards such as “Best World Beat Pop Band” in the Riverfront Times “Slammies,” making records and playing many gigs and festivals. By the time I graduated from law school, an A&R representative who had seen the band play at a festival in Philadelphia had offered me a record deal. I signed my first record deal with a label out of Nashville just before law school graduation. That led me to my 10-year professional music career as a singer-songwriter. I launched my music career out of St. Louis. My amazing hometown fans helped lift me into the big leagues in my career, including playing Lilith Fair in St. Louis, touring with Fleetwood Mac, opening for Boston, working with top-notch labels, publishing companies, and writers, having numerous film and television placements and being nationally recognized. I could write five books about this period of my life, the amazing musicians and music business people I played and worked with, and the ups and downs of my successes and experiences but suffice it to say I was very driven. I had an amazing career with many “almosts” in breaking through to the pinnacle of the music industry (like many of us in the music industry do).

Throughout my music career, I had consistently worked at law firms, either part-time or as a contract attorney, with my bar card in my pocket, but no one in the music business knew I was a lawyer. There were also a lot of legal contracts and business negotiations that came my way in my music career. In those ways, I kept up my chops as an attorney, but I did not identify myself professionally that way. At one point, when the decision came to make another record and keep working on my career, my heart went in a different direction. I had always envisioned my life including a family and being a wife and mother, which made me open to my first job offer as an attorney. Eventually, after having moved to Los Angeles (yes, I did it this time!), I returned to St. Louis for music business purposes and met an attorney who offered me a full-time job with benefits. My “stupid lawyer joke” was that I should sue that attorney for “malicious hiring.” But it was an extraordinary, unanticipated opportunity that sent my life in a new direction to become the estate planning attorney I had always envisioned I would become (if I ever practiced law). I have now had an estate planning practice in St. Louis for almost 20 years. I also have an amazing husband and two amazing daughters. (He is a St. Louis native, so we are not going anywhere!) I love this practice. As part of what I do, given my music/art background, I have a particular penchant for estate planning with unique assets, such as intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents, name, imageand likeness), as well as artwork and other collections. I love to work with artists, musicians, sports figures, celebrities, and people who collect and appreciate works of art and unique assets, as well as entrepreneurs, business professionals and donors who are entrepreneurially or charitably driven to participate in the sports, entertainment, and arts arenas. But, as I said, I love this practice – my clients (individuals and businesses) come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and I help them with the full spectrum of their needs and goals related to estate planning, legacy planning, and business succession.

You wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been smooth?
It is a challenge to switch your career midstream.  I would not recommend it as a plan. But I recommend being passionate about what you do, and if that passion leads you on various adventures and pursuits, what a full and wonderful life you will have!

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about LATHROP GPM?

  • Lathrop GPM was formed in 2020 through the combination of two 100+-year firms, both with strong Midwestern cores – Lathrop Gage (established in Kansas City in 1873) and Gray Plant Mooty (established in Minneapolis in 1866). Our nearly 325 attorneys practice in 13 offices nationwide, located from coast to coast – allowing us to quickly respond to clients’ needs at the local, state or national levels.
  • I am practicing with Lathrop GPM in our St. Louis office as part of their Trusts, Estates, and Legacy Planning group.

What should we know about ROBYNN RAGLAND, Singer-Songwriter?

  • Album – “Modern American Female Gut” – 2000
  • Songs you might know – “People You Know” by Robynn Ragland, “Love Love Love Love” by Robynn Ragland, “Peace in the Water” by Robynn Ragland

Do you have any favorite apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check?

  • The Horses On Grandpa’s Farm, by Myrtle Rhea LaBrier (my grandmother)
  • The Missouri Practice Trust Code and Law Manual
  • Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill
  • The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
  • (My mother’s unpublished poetry & my father’s unpublished autobiography)

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Black and white photo holding the guitar — Todd Davis, Todd Davis Photography, St. Louis

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