Disruptive innovation is a term coined by Clayton Christensen in his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, which refers to an innovation that creates a new market through new technology or creates a new market through technology used in a different way. My favorite example of disruptive innovation is Netflix, which took the standard market for movie rentals and revolutionized it, first through the mailing of DVDs and then through online streaming of movies.
Why Disruptive Innovation Matters to Lawyers
Disruptive innovation is a term corporate lawyers should know to better understand certain clients and the goal of their particular product or service. It is also a term all lawyers should know, as there is much discussion on how disruptive innovation could revolutionize the legal field. Businesses like LegalZoom and UpCounsel have certainly changed some aspects of the legal field, in particular the ease by which people can obtain certain legal services and by which people can hire lawyers. What will be interesting to see in the future is if there is a disruptive innovation that does away with the billable hour. There is a growing trend towards flat fee billing, but it certainly is not the norm. Disruptive innovation takes a traditional business model and turns it on its head and my bet is that the legal field is not immune to this trend.