Snatched from the day before yesterday’s headlines, MARGIN CALL is a brilliantly disturbing film by J.C. Chandor. This film traces a fictitious Wall Street firm’s “selling out” the rest of the marketplace in one day…and the decisions that lead up to it. Told mostly through two person scenes we learn how the characters each make his or her decision to join their CEO and sell, sell, sell – knowing that they are going to bring their colleagues and friends down with them. And that there is a good chance their own careers are going down with these choices, too.
The cast is filled with stars giving fabulous performances – Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci. The story unfolds not in big scenes of what happened next…but in little scenes between. Scenes between two people. Each one of those scenes is a moment of decision for either or both characters.
Attorneys need to watch these scenes with care. One of the principles that we believe in at ACT of Communication is that a trial lawyer needs to tell his or her trial story from the point of view not of the client – but from the point of view of the “other” guy. The other guy’s client. In our workshops and casework I refer to a story of “the other team’s bad crappy choices.” This film is literally a gift to attorneys/storytellers who are looking to tell the story of bad crappy choices. One by one. About halfway through the film you realize that this disaster, like the disasters that lead to many lawsuits, are made not of one crappy choice, but a series of crappy choices.
After seeing the film, I know you will want to re-examine your cases for the storytelling scenes of the bad, crappy choices. I know I did.
TIP: What bad, crappy choices did your client’s opponent make that led to this lawsuit?