Maybe. There are certainly some important lessons for members of the Client Revolution.
First of all, if you haven't seen the movie, do. It's the best movie of the year. It's also the smartest movie of the year — in fact, it's the smartest movie in a long time. You don't walk out of there thinking that you've seen the same thing before; it's a legitimate original.
If you've been in seclusion this summer, here's the general idea: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an expert in extracting information from people's dreams. But he's put to the test by a new client who wants him to do something much more difficult: plant an idea in a business rival's dreaming mind. That's "inception." They want their target, Robert Fischer, to break up his late father's business empire.
As Cobb and his team map out their heist, one of them raises a question central to the movie:
"I will split up my father's empire." Now this is obviously an idea that Robert Fischer will choose to reject — which is why we need to plant it deep in his subconscious. Subconscious is fueled by emotion, right? Not reason. We need a find a way to translate this into an emotional concept.
How do you translate a business strategy into an emotion?
That's a question that all lawyers should ponder. As lawyers, we're trained to figure out a business strategy — in our case, a legal strategy. But we often forget that clients don't respond to business or legal strategies. Instead, clients — like all human beings — are led by emotion.
You want to become a rainmaker and bring new clients into your firm? Then figure out how to translate a business strategy into an emotion.
The second lesson for lawyers comes from behind the scenes. Turns out that as successful as the movie has turned out to be — making about $700 million worldwide to date, the most successful heist movie ever — they had trouble getting financing beforehand. According to E! Online, DiCaprio agreed to take less money up front in exchange for receiving "first-dollar gross" pay at the back end. In other words, according to E!, Leo is getting a cut of every ticket sold, and is already looking at a massive payday of more than $50 million.
Most lawyers fear so-called "alternative billing arrangements" (as they call them) — more accurately known as "value pricing" — because they're afraid that they'll end up making less money than they would if they billed hourly. Imagine if Leo had shared this fear and turned down the first-dollar gross arrangement in favor of his usual "billable hours." The actor obviously believed in the movie and in writer-director Christopher Nolan. His faith was richly rewarded.
Lawyers, let me plant this idea into your dreams: If you have faith in your clients and your cases, you might end up doing far better than if you just filled out your timesheet.
What do you think? Like the movie? Think it applies to lawyers? Wish you had gone into acting instead? Share your thoughts in the comments.
[Update 9/11/10: Click here for a link to an amazing article by Sam Adams (no, not that one) on Salon.com: "Everything you wanted to know about 'Inception.'" But do not read it before you see the movie; big-time spoilers abound.]