In Memoriam: Clayton Christensen

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Cambridge, MA — The Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession is mourning the loss of Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. Professor Christensen will be remembered for his career as a scholar, thought leader, and beloved teacher.

Among his many scholarly contributions, Professor Christensen is perhaps best known for his is theory of “disruptive innovation,” described in his seminal book The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Harvard Business School Press, 1997).  In 2014, the Center on the Legal Profession had the great fortune to host a conference featuring Professor Christensen as the keynote speaker. At the event, he laid out his theories on innovation, providing examples such as how well-known, well-run computer companies that produced “complicated and expensive” products were overtaken by then-upstarts like Apple and Microsoft that produced “affordable and accessible” ones. Professor Christensen also discussed how his disruption theories applied to industries like education, consulting, and law. You can watch Professor Christensen’s keynote here.

Professor Christensen’s theory and research have had a lasting impact on the intellectual life of the Center, including its ongoing research into innovation in the legal services market. The Center published an issue of The Practice entitled “Disruptive Innovation in Legal Services” in 2015, which focused on many of the core themes contained in Professor Christensen’s work, as well as a follow-on issue, “Adaptive Innovation,” in 2019.

Professor Christensen’s intellect, kindness, and generosity of spirit will be missed around the world. We here at the Center on the Legal Profession are in his debt and are grateful for the chance to learn from such a wonderful man.

Download the PDF here: Clayton Christensen PDF