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January 29, 2009 4:03 PM

Ropes & Gray: A Firm With Star Power

Posted by Brian Baxter

The Am Law Daily considers itself lucky that we've managed so far to avoid Bride Wars, the new Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway vehicle being foisted on an unsuspecting public. (Bride Wars, Bridezillas, Runaway Bride, what's the difference?)

A not-so-lucky friend of ours who recently took in the ditzy romantic comedy told us that the Ropes & Gray shingle hangs prominently in the film, which features the marital miscues of a fictitious Am Law associate. 

Hudson, a one-time fave of ours who hasn't had a meaningful role since Almost Famous nearly a decade ago, plays "Olivia," an associate-by-day, nuptials-nincompoop-by-night.

The poor soul who wrote the Wikipedia page on Bride Wars, writes that Hudson's character is "a successful lawyer who is used to getting her way, and won't settle for anything else." Hmmm, sounds like a few legal beagles we know.

Be that as it may, in the movie, much of which was filmed in Boston and New York, the Ropes & Gray name can be seen when Hudson/Olivia enters her office building.

Our colleagues at the Boston Business Journal also appear to have noticed the Ropes & Gray connection. The newspaper reports that some Ropes & Gray partners are "less-than-thrilled" with the prominence of the firm's name in the movie. (Hudson's character apparently has a "meltdown scene" at her fictional firm.)

Firm spokesman John Tuerck told the BBJ that while Ropes & Gray didn't plan for its name to be displayed so prominently in the film, it's dealing with the devastating repercussions just fine.

"[W]e're tickled to see our firm's name in Hollywood lights," Tuerck said. "It's all in good fun, and it comes at a time when everyone can use a laugh, for sure." (News broke Thursday that Ropes & Gray was eliminating 106 staff positions, 10 percent of the firm's non-lawyer staff.)

Amen to that, John.

Firms using their offices for film shoots certainly isn't something out of the ordinary. A year or so ago our eagle-eyed colleague Nate Raymond noticed a strange amalgamation in the credits of the legal thriller Michael Clayton: a firm by the name of Dewey Ballantine Morrison Cohen, LLP.

Something tells us the Dewey & LeBoeuf merger worked out better.

At least the producer of Bride Wars--that would be Hudson--got Ropes & Gray's name right. Perhaps it's because the firm itself is no stranger to the entertainment industry.

Conan O'Brien, soon to be Hollywood-bound himself to take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno, owes his very existence to a former longtime Ropes & Gray partner.

Ruth Reardon O'Brien, who retired in 1997, was one of the old-line Boston firm's first woman partners. Stanford University's Women's Legal History Biography Project has an excellent profile of Reardon O'Brien that you can find here.

And to think that--based on Conan's portrayal or her--we always imagined his mom as an Edith Bunker type. Guess when it comes to setting the record straight, Bride Wars is good for something after all.

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While much of the movie may have been filmed in Boston, the plot involved two close friends fighting over a wedding reception date at the Plaza. The movie was a Fox production and scene showing the Ropes & Gray name was filmed in NYC at the Fox News building, which is where the Ropes NYC is located.

This is particularly ironic, considering that the BW film crew shot many scenes at WilmerHale's Boston offices.

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