I added this to my course syllabus, “Law 2.0”:
This year’s class is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School, who passed away on January 23, 2020. Prof. Christensen’s seminal work, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms To Fail”, is perhaps the single most predictive work of how technology is disrupting the legal system worldwide. While there have been revisions to this work over the years, both by Prof. Christensen as well as many other academics, the core concepts continue to provide a clear framework that account for the transformations currently under way.
In addition to being a towering academic (literally — he was 6’8”), Prof. Christensen was a very kind and personable man. He prided himself on how many people he could help — caring as much, if not more, about being kind than about his academic accomplishments. I had the honor to meet him at a Harvard conference on Legal Innovation, and he encouraged me to reach out to his son, who was a graduate student at Stanford at that time (near where I live). Unsurprisingly, his son was as gracious as he was.
Prof. Christensen is not by any means the only professor I have met at Harvard who values generosity and dedication to others so highly, though he certainly set a high bar (as do the other thought leaders in this field, such as Susskind, Lessig, and the many guest speakers who have passed through this course over the years). Prof. Christensen provides a reminder that for work to be meaningful, we have to merge our intellect with our core values, and remember that it never hurts to be kind in the process.
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