On the Set of Lathamed: The Movie

Bitter Staff Columns, Lawyer 16 Comments

Law firm layoffs will be moving from pink slips to the silver screen in the upcoming film Lathamed. The film tells the story of the gutting of the big law dreams, or as the studio has described the movie, “It’s like Titanic, but with fewer survivors.”

“Michael Bay was an easy choice for director,” we were told by the film’s producer. “I worked with him on Armageddon, and saw a lot of good ideas that ended up on the editing room floor. He’s been looking for a place to use them, and I think they’ll find a home in Lathamed.”

“Honestly, I don’t know if I’m up to the task,” Bay stated.  “Sure, I’ve done the Transformers films, so I have some experience with robots.  But Bumblebee and Optimus Prime had some personality.  I could work with that.  But lawyers?  They’re more like the robots you see in an auto plant. The types they don’t make action figures of.”

Bay went on to explain that while there were some professionals on set, most of the cast and crew were unemployed attorneys. “Let’s face it, they’re cheap labor,” Bay said. “With actors you have to at least offer them more than they would have earned catering, but we have about a dozen lawyers that are being paid out of a stipend their school is giving us just to hire them. It’s also nice to have employees who wouldn’t know how to unionize if they wanted to.”

We asked one crew member how he felt about working on a non-union movie set. “You know, it’s funny, one of the real actors sat us down and gave a lecture on unions after we started. I know what a meal penalty is now. We don’t get that benefit, because none of us knew about it when signing our contracts. But, we did get CLE credit for learning about it. Honestly though, I’m just happy that I finally found a place to use my undergrad degree.”

That actor giving the lecture was Leah Pipes from the recently canceled legal dramedy The Deep End.  She won’t appear in the movie, but was instead hired as a consultant. “I was surprised how little these kids knew,” Pipes told us. “And not just the union stuff.  Yesterday I had to tell one of them which side of the court room the plaintiff stands on.  He was a third year associate from some mega firm in New York.  I did six episodes of The Deep End and I have more courtroom experience than he does.”

We asked one of the lawyers-turned-actor how he felt about the transition: “For me, when I heard about the casting call, it was just sort of a ‘duh’ moment.  You go to law school for three years and learn how to act like a lawyer. You’re comfortable saying things like “res ipsa loquitur,” and “not withstanding,” but don’t have any real substantive legal knowledge. It’s lawyer-actor school, so this just seemed like a perfect fit.”

Not everyone on set was as enthusiastic about the change in careers. We spoke to another recent graduate who had a different take on the situation: “I went to law school hoping to be an entertainment lawyer. This may be the closest I ever get.  But, at least it’s not contract attorney work. I did about three months of that, and then even those jobs starting going away. Here they serve us breakfast and lunch, and we’re only working twelve hour days. It’s not ideal, but what else are you going to do?  I actually got a call from my law school the other day.  They invited me to talk at an admitted students day about alternative careers for lawyers. I don’t know if the lady I talked to was serious, but she said I was the highest earner in my class. I’m an assistant’s assistant and I’m making $325. Way to go DePaul. I don’t know how I’m going to pay off my student loans.”

Like most of the lawyers working on Lathamed, the DePaul alumnus graduated with six figures of debt. One lawyer working on the lighting crew said he had conducted a rough poll of his fellow lawyer/actors with respect to outstanding student loans. We can’t confirm the numbers, but he told us their combined debt dwarfed the $60 million budgeted for the movie.

Around Hollywood, Lathamed is gaining a reputation as the most under-sexed movie set in town, and given the pale, doughy, beaten-down look of the lawyers, it’s easy to see why. We spoke to the film’s casting director about the lackluster appearance of the actors and actresses: “Lots of these girls had sorority leadership roles on their resumes,” he told us. “So, some of them were probably pretty hot at one point, right?  But this is Hollywood. There’s lots of competition. Can’t get away with an extra five pounds in the back yard.  Truth is, I didn’t want to bang a single broad who auditioned. First time in my career. I’ve never seen so many unscrewable chicks.  Which is sort of ironic, since the only reason they’re here is that they got screwed by Latham in the first place. I hope they appreciate the irony.”

Karen, a thirty-something blonde who was laid off after four years at an AmLaw 200 firm, overheard the remarks: “What does that jackass know?  I’m a ten. I look exactly like Kim Cattrall. I’m hot.”

Lathamed is scheduled to hit movie theater this October, but if the legal film industry behaves at all like the real legal industry, expect the release date to be pushed back to January 2012.

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  • Magic Circle Jerk

    Sadly, I think I actually could create a pretty decent movie about the Lathamed 300 and how, despite crippling debt burdens, they escaped the shittastic profession of biglaw to actually do something rewarding with their lives.
    but otherwise, hillarious

  • haven’t you seen the news?

    it should be called “simpsoned”…

  • Alma Federer

    When I was in law school, I almost decided I wanted to apply to Latham and a few other fancy big firms.  But I didn’t and I am glad now that I didn’t.  Instead, my father said I would do better at a boutique firm where I could get to know all of the partners and associates.  I am still at the firm, and am happy because the managing partner likes me, and respects me for my conservative outlook, both politically as well as sexually.  He has long given up the thought of having me as the firm’s female mascot, and respects me for my legal mind.  I can only hope that all of the people that went to the big firms will be able to land safely in another job where they will be respected, and will not be sexually harassed on the job, because there are a lot of repressed lawyers out there that view cute and young female lawyers as easy pickings.  Thank God that I do not have that situation to deal with.  Best of luck to all of the men and women out there who invested in a legal education.  You have value.

  • grindhouse

    Alma – that value that you speak of, if still in existence at all, is rapidly diminishing.
    Luck isn’t going to help JD’s anymore.

  • Bitter Editor

    “notwithstanding” = one word. 
    Bitter Editor

  • Anonymous

    Haha, love it.

  • Guano Dubango

    Big firm life is not all glamourous, I agree.  I also know people who worked at this law firm and other big firms.  But I have had no success in breaking through the glass ceelings that I face with the pretty women lawyers.  There are pretty women lawyers, but they treat me the same way as they do the janitorial staff.  I do not understand why, since I have LLM from Georgetown, which is a reputable degree for those of us with non-USA law degrees.  But nonetheless, this is not a draw for the women attorney’s even those who are only of marginal beauty.  I do not expect to have sex from any of these women on the first date, but somehow I believe they believe that they would be expected to have sex with me right away. Women, understand please that you will not have to have sex with me on the first date.  That is a promise.

  • Daughter of Guano

    A lawyer in a courtroom, in front of any jury, becomes an actor, right? Raymond Burr is an actor, impersonating a lawyer, who in front of a jury becomes an actor. Me, I’m a former actor who becomes a lawyer. They’ve done the pilot film of a TV series, in fact, based loosely on my career, starring my friend Manny Di Presso, a one-time lawyer who quit his firm to become an actor. Who in this pilot plays me, an actor become a lawyer reverting periodically to being an actor. The film is in an air-conditioned vault at one of the Hollywood studios, light can’t fatigue it, it can be repeated endlessly.
    –Crying of Lot 49

  • ’09 grad

    A JD has value?  I used to think so, but it’s time to face facts: I have no value.  None.  I can’t even stock shelves, because no one will hire a lawyer for menial labor. 
    It’s funny to think that at 23, I quite literally ruined my life and destroyed my chances to have any kind of future by choosing to go to law school.  It was my choice, and I own up to it- I didn’t do enough research and I had too much faith in the American economy.  And now I have to live with it. 
    I’m waiting for my life insurance to become irrevocable.  Once two years pass on the term, my lifetime earning potential becomes dwarfed by the potential payout.  Maybe things will work out better next time.

  • Ted

    Relax 9.  Congress has pretty much created your predicament.  Many people in government are well aware of the student loan problem.  Nothing happens, however, because of the power of the banking industry and their tireless lobbyists.  The government will allow big banking and big school to keep at it until there’s nothing left and the system crashes entirely, just like with the mortgage mess.  You can either default like everyone else, or if the government is too draconian, leave the country.  We’re in for another great depression anyway and you don’t really want to be here.  Much of the world will go down with us, but the emerging markets that actually produce goods will be a better bet than here.

  • Future Ex-Pats Unite

    #10 is right.  My flight to South America leaves next month.  Sorry, Aunt Sallie.  There won’t be a forwarding address.

  • Anon

    Good post.  Sadly, it’s more painful than funny, which is why it’s so funny, i guess.  Anyway, it was entertaining and made me smile.  Not an easy feat when you’re a lawyer.

  • Anonymous

    This is dull.  It is summer, dudes. Get some stories about hot paralegals who got drunk in Century City on Friday and woke up nude Sunday morning on the beach in Malibu.

  • Anonymous

    Kim Cattrall is not hot.

  • quado

    So, 1 new article every 8-10 days… You’re slipping BL…you’re slipping bad.

  • Lathaming

    This movie needs to happen.