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Leslie Oster

Leslie Oster is a clinical associate professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.  Before coming to Northwestern...

Emerson Tiller

Emerson H. Tiller joined the Northwestern University faculty in 2003 as a professor of law with a courtesy appointment...

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Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel B. Rodriguez is the Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He served as dean...

Episode Notes

The increasing societal shift toward a more global marketplace encourages many graduates to seek a multidisciplinary education. How does learning skills from various fields help students in the workplace and what value can legal knowledge add?

In this episode of Planet Lex, host Dan Rodriguez talks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law J. Landis Martin Professor of Law & Business Emerson Tiller and Clinical Associate Professor of Law Director Leslie Oster about the new Master of Science in Law Program. Emerson shares that the goal of the program is to train individuals who come from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) backgrounds, in the ways that law can integrate the more technical aspects of business management and innovation. Leslie discusses the program’s objectives to help the students be more nimble in their problem solving and empower them with the tools to analyze issues more holistically. She also emphasizes that students who understand multiple disciplines and how they interact will be able to offer unique perspectives relative to their peers and coworkers. Emerson evaluates the benefits of having business people and entrepreneurs intermingling with law students on campus, and they both discuss how the program has attracted a 50% male to female gender balance. They close the interview with a discussion of the opportunities this program presents their graduates and how interested individuals with STEM backgrounds can enter the program.

Emerson H. Tiller joined the Northwestern University faculty in 2003 as a professor of law with a courtesy appointment at the Kellogg School of Management as professor of business law. Prior to joining the Northwestern faculty, Professor Tiller was a professor at the University of Texas, Graduate School of Business, where he also directed the Center for Business, Technology and Law. His research has primarily focused on empirical and theoretical analyses of political forces in regulatory and judicial decision-making.

Leslie Oster is a clinical associate professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.  Before coming to Northwestern in 2012, Leslie worked in a variety of administrative and academic positions in legal education. She was the dean of students at Berkeley’s law school for 11 years and also held positions as special assistant to the dean at the University of San Diego School of Law and assistant dean for strategic planning at the University of Texas at Austin. She has taught a variety of skills classes and classes on the courts, as an instructor at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, director of legal writing at University of California, Berkeley, director of lawyering skills at the University of San Diego, and a senior lecturer at University of Texas at Austin. Prior to her career in legal education, Leslie worked as a city attorney and clerked in the California Courts of Appeal. She received her law and undergraduate degrees from University of California, Berkeley. At Northwestern, Leslie is teaching medical innovation and working on new academic initiatives, including the Master of Science in Law degree, a one year master’s degree for STEM-trained students.


Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Integrating the Law and STEM Focused Multidisciplinary Education


Intro: Welcome to Planet Lex: The Podcast of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law with your host Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez, bringing it to you from Chicago, Illinois. Take it away Dan.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Hello folks and welcome to Northwestern Law’s Planet Lex, broadcasting from the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law here in Chicago, Illinois. So we have two guests today close to home, no closer than possible; they are both faculty members here at Northwestern. My guests are Emerson Tiller and Leslie Oster.

Emerson is the J. Landis Martin Professor of Law and Business here at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and an expert in among other things, legal and strategic management of intellectual property. Leslie is a Clinical Associate Professor of Law and the Director of the Master of Science in Law Program. The Master of Science in Law Program is our topic de jure.

So, one of you tell us a little bit about this strange new degree, the MSL.

Emerson H. Tiller: Thanks Dean Rodriguez for having us on your podcast here. This is a program we are really excited to talk about because both Leslie and I have been with it since it began. In fact, we were signed to create something in this space.

So the program is really a unique, special program, not only for law schools, but really for any kind of school in the country. It’s a program that really recognizes that our society is changing and becoming much more dependent upon experts in STEM fields, and that there needs to be a program that trains people who come from science and medicine and engineering and math in a way that shows how law is becoming also a more important feature of our economy and the way that it helps integrate the more technical aspects of innovation and business management.

So that was the more general idea about a program, and of course we had to figure out what was it that the law school would have to offer to people who could use these types of skills, and when I say types of skills I mean legal, managerial type skills in a STEM environment, so that was the general idea behind starting this program. And we can go into more details, but perhaps Leslie has something to add.

Leslie Oster: Well, I would just say we have — all the students in the program are students with STEM backgrounds.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: STEM stands for?

Leslie Oster: Well, I think technically it’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and we also have medicine and IT and Health.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: So STEMM?

Leslie Oster: STEMM, with the Medicine. So we have brought in these students and the areas in the curriculum that they study revolve around intellectual property, as Emerson mentioned, also regulatory strategy and analysis, we do a lot of classes on business and entrepreneurship, a lot of classes in skills development, both quantitative skills and also communication skills, and lots of other clusters in the curriculum, which we can talk about.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Now Emerson, you used the phrase, I wrote down, legal type skills, so let me try to understand that a little bit better. In the old days, which I suppose given the novelty of this program is three years ago, and for the 100+ years before that, when we talked about legal type skills we talked about the skills that lawyers have.

So all of us went to law school and the first day of class the grizzled veteran faculty member stood at the front of the room, and before he gave us a quater and asked us to go call our mothers he said; usually he, I am going to be here to train you to think like a lawyer. And so the value added of legal education was to train us all to think like a lawyer, and I suppose that meant, and thus, in thinking like a lawyer being able to develop these mad skills of being a lawyer that would take us into our great careers. Has that changed in a way, is the notion of what it means to think like a lawyer gone through some evaluation?

Emerson H. Tiller: I think for students in this type of program there are several dimensions to thinking like a lawyer that are important. One is, thinking like a lawyer is the ability to think in a very verbal way, but very analytic way, and to be able to communicate the logic of your thinking, and I think that’s what law schools do extremely well.

I think that’s something that these students are primed for, but not quite ready to do, because they have been thinking in very analytic ways, but in very spatial and precise mathematical ways, and what we are able to do here is to help them relay that skill in a more verbal communicative way, where you really do have to communicate across different functions of the business firm and in society.

And so in that sense thinking like a lawyer, we are at least giving some ability to communicate very analytic ideas, but I also like to —

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Can I just jump in and say, you sort of try to get rid of their old ways, again, I am channeling my inner Professor Kingsfield, and you remember he said, you come in here with a mindful of mush and you will leave thinking like a lawyer. Do these young people come in with minds full of mush?


Emerson H. Tiller: No, not at all, and we see this more as an evolutionary process, where we ourselves are learning a lot from this program, and so we are helping define how their communication skills that are more technical, but yet very analytic and precise can relate to another environment where communication is also very important, and it’s very analytic, and so I think there’s actually something going back both ways.

I think we are learning from each other and what comes out of that effort to learn from each other in this kind of program is something special and new.

HYPERLINK “” Leslie Oster: I would just add on the thinking like a lawyer thing, a lot of these students come in and they are almost there. They are very analytical in their approach, and even organized. Where sometimes it differs from what we traditionally think of as thinking like a lawyer is they are also very black and white.

So there’s been a little bit of — it’s hard to kind of view multiple sides of a problem, because there is a real eagerness to get to the answer, and so that’s one place where we do take what is typically thought of as thinking like a lawyer and try to train these folks to be more like sort of multidisciplinary and take more perspectives and be willing to be more nimble about thinking through a solution to a problem rather than just getting to the answer right away.

Emerson H. Tiller: Can I add one thing to that as well, and I think that’s a great point, Leslie. We are also training them to think about law, not just think about how to think like a lawyer. And why it’s maybe a little different than how we might train lawyers is that lawyers are often trained to be problem solvers, because people often come to their door with problems.

We are training people to anticipate potential legal obstacles and legal opportunities very early in the managerial process, and we think that that’s something that lawyers can’t typically do because they don’t have that inside relationship within the firm. Whereas these people are in touch, not only with the management, but with the science itself that may be driving the innovation of the firm, and their ability to have that broader perspective of legal obstacles and opportunities very early in the process can change, not only the organizational design, it can change the very product that they are planning to design, because of regulatory hurdles or opportunities or other types of risk that might come from a more legal-oriented perspective.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: So when I listen to both of you and you convinced me and hopefully convince our listeners that there is enormous value to the STEM trained professionals in developing the legal skills, to use your words, thinking like a lawyer, having an approach to law, I can’t help but ask, why not encourage them to go to law school? And by law school I mean we have a model that’s tried and true for more than a 100+ years, multiplicity of courses, basic foundational courses all of that, why isn’t the answer to this evolving economy is to bring them into law school and train them to become practicing lawyers?

Emerson H. Tiller: They don’t need that level of depth of topic coverage. We train our law students to have very deep knowledge of the law and to get that it takes a lot of time, a lot of reading, cases that in a particular area that touch on very nuanced points of laws, and that’s what makes our law students experts.

We don’t need that level of precise expertise for our MSL students. These students are better served with breadth. There are some areas where they are going to get a lot of depth; in fact, in some areas maybe even more than our typical law student. Like intellectual property is one where I think our offerings might even be better than what most people get at law schools.

But in a more general sense we are trying to give them a more integrated understanding that involves other areas that are not just law, they are also business and there is entrepreneurship and regulatory skill sets that are not always taught in the normal course of legal education.

So I think we are offering in this program more than a typical law school curriculum. These students are not sitting in with law students in law student type classes. They are sitting in on classes that are only for them, and there are things that are only important for them — well, I shouldn’t say only important for them, but are especially important for them, that may not even be that important for some of our law students, so it’s a very tailored type training.

HYPERLINK “” Leslie Oster: The main reason why we shouldn’t encourage these students to go to law school for three years and get a JD is because that’s not what they want, they don’t want to be lawyer. They want to be —

Daniel B. Rodriguez: How can they not want to be a lawyer?

HYPERLINK “” Leslie Oster: They really thrive on these intersectional connections that they learn about and they make in the MSL program, so they want to be like doing business development, or they want to be doing product development, and to go to law school for three years and delve into the nuances that Emerson described, it’s just not what they want to do.

And when we first started thinking about this, we thought — one of the first things we were aiming to do was bring more science and technology people and engineers into JD programs, and we quickly realized like we could get a few more in, but most of them, even though they are very interested in law, did not want to do that, it’s just not what interested them. So this captures it. It’s kind of a very specific segment, but for the people who come to this program, this is exactly the program that they want to be in.


Daniel B. Rodriguez: Let’s move away from the ivory tower at least for a moment to the real world, and again, to come back to what both of you were saying at the beginning, and Emerson in particular, you were talking about developing these skills for a new economy and the world is becoming more interdisciplinary in business strategy and law. Maybe both of you could give us a scenario of where a STEM trained profession, armed with this beautiful new degree, MSL would come into an environment, work with lawyers, and actually make a difference because of the kind of training that they have with this program.

Leslie Oster: We just had graduation about a week ago and on the following Monday one of our MSL graduate started a job as a business analyst at a healthcare company. One of the very first assignments that she got; in fact, I think the first assignment was they were trying to evaluate whether to go into business with another company.

And she was doing the research and learned that that company had been involved in 15 lawsuits, and she was tasked to analyze those lawsuits and make a business decision about whether this company was a good company for her company going into business with, and that’s something that —

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Hope she said no because they had 15 lawsuits.

Leslie Oster: Well, I mean, I guess you could say it might depend on the lawsuits, but in this case I think she did say no, but that’s not something that you need to go to the lawyers about necessarily. It’s not really a legal question. You might not go to your general counsel for that, but that’s something where if you have an understanding of law and business and how they interact, you can give an opinion that will be educated in ways that most of the other people in your division would not be able to do.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: So let’s get a little more cosmic about this whole issue, and let’s start with, we are all lawyers and all, but we know that lawyers have a bad rep, for a variety of reasons, but here is one that actually might matter for the scenario and also the environment in which you talk about.

So you have folks who have come into the program, as you describe them, STEM based professionals, maybe would-be entrepreneurs, folks who are in the business sector wanting to bring their product to market in advance and all of that. And they encounter lawyers who have a well-earned reputation for being the ones to say, well, here’s the risk, don’t you know what the perils are going to be if you are in this environment. They are saying no a lot. And certainly folks who are entrepreneurs experience lawyers being the warning sirens to their advances.

First, I guess a two-part question, one is do you think that reputation is well-deserved in this changing environment that you talk about; and two, does this program help these students navigate and negotiate that very different culture that one sees in an environment that’s chock-filled with lawyers?

Emerson H. Tiller: Yes on both of those points. One, I do think that legal trained people, lawyers actually, have a responsibility to identify obstacles and keep their clients out of trouble, and so that’s where some of the sense of them always saying no comes from, because there is some responsibility, but lawyers don’t always — they are not in the position to assess the broader risk to the company’s value proposition.

And there are times where management might decide that they are risk worth taking that a lawyer on its own might not suggest you should, and that’s just part of business decision making.

So one of the things that we do I think with these students is give them the ability to think about lawyers and the legal function as something you manage. It’s not something you necessary have to do all the time, but you understand lawyers, you get a sense of law and the different areas that it touches, and you think of it more as a managerial problem and not necessarily always an obstacle; sometimes it’s an opportunity, and so that’s more the perspective we are trying to give these students.

Leslie Oster: I would just there is sometimes a gulf between what’s going on, on the legal side and what’s going on, on the business side, and never the twain shall meet. The goal of this program, and I think the goal of generally training lawyers in this day and age is to get people to see that there should not be a gulf and to understand what’s going on, on the other side.

So when a lawyer says no or there’s a risk, it’s important to be able to understand that and translate that. And I think there is a lot of people who just shy away from any interaction with the legal side. So part of the goal of the MSL is to get folks to not shy away and to lean into understanding law, but in the end there’s changes on both sides.

So we talked at the beginning about thinking like a lawyer, you often hear people talk about entrepreneurial thinking, and I think that’s something that’s being incorporated into lawyer training now, just sort of —

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Say some more about that, how does this program and the initiatives that are underway, even beyond this program, helping enrich our ability to train our lawyers, our law students in new ways of thinking?


HYPERLINK “” Leslie Oster: I think a lot of it is about understanding risk and being able to evaluate it and see how it fits in the marketplace. So not being necessarily as afraid of risk, but being able to evaluate the risk that’s going to allow you to move forward even in the face of risk. I think that’s one of the things you talk about. Like when people think of lawyers they think, they are just always putting out obstacles and pointing out the risk. But there’s risk in everything, and I think one thing that’s happening on both sides, the MSL training and the JD training, is learning to sort of understand risk and find an acceptable level of risk that will allow you to move forward.

Emerson H. Tiller: And I think another benefit for the law school and certainly those who are getting more traditional legal education here is that, one, you have 50 to a 100 aspiring entrepreneurs or business people and technically trained ones wandering our building and having conversations. So that’s really valuable for the life of the school that we are not in an echo chamber just talking to each other about law.

And second, the professors who are teaching the MSL students and absorbing a lot of the kinds of questions that they have and understandings that they are getting from the business life of these students, these professors are also teaching our JD students, and so they are able to, we hope, bring in questions and experiences from this set of students into the classroom with their JD students, and we think that that’s a value as well.

And then, an additional value is we are innovating in the way we train MSL students, because we are forced with a type of student we have never had before and we are learning new ways to communicate from an educational perspective to them and realizing some of those insights are highly valuable in the classroom for our law students. And so I think it has pushed us to use better and more technology in the classroom, being more open to different styles of learning in the classroom, and so I think there’s a lot of benefit in having both these groups together.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Do you find the faculty teaches them in old, tried and true Socratic Method, where these students are called on or asked to recite in the ways that may be earlier generations of law students expected?

HYPERLINK “” Leslie Oster: Considering that both of you actually do teach an MSL program, maybe you can both answer that for me.

Emerson H. Tiller: I like to give them a little bit of that experience so they understand how lawyers are trained and the importance of that method in making people think on their feet and communicate openly to a broad group. And so I let them know that that’s what I am doing. And we don’t do that the whole class; we do it as part of an experimentation, an experiment in the learning enterprise in the class.

But with this group I think that the faculty members typically push to broaden his or her way of teaching, and they may be using more visuals; I think visual persuasion is becoming much more important in communication generally in our society, but I think —

Daniel B. Rodriguez: It’s funny you say that when we are on the radio, but I take your point.

Emerson H. Tiller: Yeah, but we have like this little recording light on in the studio here, it makes it feel like the real thing.

Yeah, so I think visual persuasion is becoming much more important, and so I think some of our faculty members are realizing that as they teach these students, wow, they are very spatial oriented, I bet I could communicate better if I had a diagram or a picture, or they are also more used to working in teams. Although I think Northwestern Law School does a great job with teaching our law students how to do teams, but that’s not the way most law schools work. But this group also, our MSL students work in teams a lot, and I think faculty members are learning even more the value of managing teams within the classroom, so I think there is a lot to gain.

HYPERLINK “” Leslie Oster: So what about in your class, Emerson is teaching Contract Law and Design, and there is a big design component, right, that you wouldn’t necessarily find in a JD program.

Emerson H. Tiller: That’s right, some of our sessions we have — actually another one of our faculty members come and we actually design contracts, within the actual learning of contract law generally, and usually we separate that enterprise out I think when we do it to the JD students, but here there is no reason to separate it out, because they really need to learn with the hands-on way.

We also have online discussion boards that work great with this community. It gives them a chance — especially this community that typically is a little more shy of talking up in the classroom, where you are on the spot, the discussion boards have allowed people who might be quiet in a classroom to actually put themselves out there in these discussion boards, and it has really been a helpful thing.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Since this is quickly deteriorating into a love fest, let me ask a question, maybe from the vantage point of a devil’s advocate, as we say in the business, do you worry about the slippery slope? I mean the old saying, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You are developing legal skills in these folks who can’t and ought not to practice law. Do you run the risk of basically making them harder to deal with as clients when lawyers really do have to have the prerogative and the responsibility of doing the practice of law?

Emerson H. Tiller: Well, we are certainly not trying to make them good clients, and I think our perspective is they are who they are on their own and ignorance is much more costly than the danger of a little knowledge, so that’s our general perspective on the whole enterprise.


Daniel B. Rodriguez: We talked a lot about the students and obviously we know that they come in with STEM background. It’s obviously a diverse group. Tell us a little bit about the inputs, which is what they have done as they have come to the program, and also the outputs, what kinds of opportunities have they had once they graduate?

Leslie Oster: So one of the things we are really proud of is the program is so far 50% men and 50% women. So a lot of times if you are in both a STEM setting or an entrepreneurship setting, it can be very male-oriented, but this program has attracted a gender balance, which is terrific.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Why do you think that is?

Leslie Oster: I think it’s because maybe just the women are looking for ways to use their STEM background and put it out there in the world and they are more willing to go there. They are more willing to enter a program that’s going to require them to do more communication and more interactive stuff.

But I don’t know, what do you think, why we are 50:50?

Emerson H. Tiller: I don’t know. I know our law school is also 50:50, so it might just be the more general trend in this area of education, so I am not sure. Maybe women are looking in this field for more opportunity. Maybe there’s been traditional hurdles in STEM fields and this may be appealing to broaden their opportunity set. But that’s just speculating.

Leslie Oster: Yeah. We get some students that are straight out of college who have just been studying nanotechnology or some biotech subject or mechanical engineering that are looking before they go out into the world to develop a more full and nuanced skill set.

We also get a lot of our folks who have been out in the world working for a number of years already. So in this year’s class 80% of the students had some form of work experience before coming to the program.

We get PhDs who are looking to take their skills in a different direction from academia. We have folks that have been doing postdocs, who have been more on the research side, but are now looking to translate their research and their findings into a more commercial context.

We have students from all different areas of engineering, all different areas of science. We get a lot of math people and some technology people.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: And where are they going when they graduate?

Leslie Oster: So where they are going when they graduate is, again, they are such a diverse group and they are going to a diverse set of places when they leave here; number of people in life sciences, in IT, in law, as say an intellectual property specialist, in finance, some in policy and government. Some of the positions that they are going to include business development, business analyst, product developers, project managers; there is a variety of IP specialists, technical advisors, and some policy analysts as well. So it has been a really diverse group of jobs that they have been finding.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: So Leslie, could you describe a little bit about the curriculum of the program, give some of the highlights of some of the courses that are in the program?

Leslie Oster: Sure. The curriculum clusters in really four different areas. We have classes on intellectual property and patent design, we have classes in the business area, business/entrepreneurship area, we have classes in regulation and regulatory analysis, and we also have a group of classes that are focused on building skills.

So for example, in the skills category we have a got a class in negotiations, we have got a couple of classes in quantitative skills, we have got a class in design thinking, we have communications classes, we have classes that have to do with being an expert witness.

On the intellectual property side, we have a tremendous depth of offerings. We have classes in patent law, in patent litigation, in IP strategy and management. We have a class on IP valuation.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: So with all these diversity of courses, obviously there is some part of the curriculum that’s required, but it sounds like a student would have a very wide menu of courses that would match their interest, their background, and their ambitions.

Leslie Oster: That’s right. Once students get through the required part of the curriculum, which is less than a third of it, there is a huge array of courses that they can choose from and really tailor their mix to each individual person.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Could you describe some of the faculty members who teach in this program?

Leslie Oster: We have also got a tremendous range of faculty members. So we have a lot of residential faculty here at the law school. We have faculty members from the Northwestern campus, from the engineering school, the design school, the business school, and a number of people, both had input into forming the curriculum, but also are now teaching in the program.

And then we have a variety of lawyers and businesspeople, consultants and others from the outside world that come in and teach. We have a class in Standard Setting and one of the experts from Charles River Associates in standard setting comes in and teaches that class. IP valuation experts, folks from various consulting and businesses all over Chicago, and in fact all over the US are coming in to teach these courses.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Emerson, could you talk a little bit about the origins of the program, and in particular what kind of input you gathered from outside of the law school with the two of you thinking about developing the program? Who did you talk to and why them?


Emerson H. Tiller: We spoke to a lot of people, both in whether and what type of program they have, as well as the curriculum of the program that we eventually settled on, and sometimes those were one conversation, because it became more clear what kind of program you might want to have when you start discussing what did you want people to really learn in the program and what kind of classes there would be.

But we reached out to a lot of different communities, including academics, not only within law school, but in engineering and in business fields. We spoke with many people in industry that were in the STEM fields and at all different levels, different levels of management. But one of the real important type of person we spoke to were potential students who might take this program and early on asked them what types of skills that they see that they might need if they wanted to grow within their organizations or start their own company. And so that also helped us identify a lot of the types of classes that we would eventually put into the curriculum.

And we brought many of these people together, we didn’t just go out and talk, we brought them in together in groups and we went through exercises to try to both identify the types of classes that would be in this curriculum and the subject matter of those classes and really debated out. So there was a lot of vetting in putting together this curriculum.

And in addition, when we were done we had to present this curriculum to a full faculty, both here at the law school and make the case in a room of 80 legally trained minds about why this is the kind of program that you would want to have.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Piece of cake, plus you have friends in high places.

Leslie Oster: We have hundreds of pages of notes from the meetings that we have with people before we started this program.

Emerson H. Tiller: That’s for sure.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: So we talked about how business managers will benefit from having employees in whatever level of the organization who have these legal skills and this legal training, give me a practical example of what is missing now, and how managers maybe in the C suite would benefit from having graduates from the MSL program in their businesses?

Emerson H. Tiller: I think that these graduates will be the type of person that will quickly be picked by management to sit on firm-wide committees or special projects, because they are going to be one of the few people within the organization that can synthesize information from a variety of perspectives, both the technical world, the legal world, the business management world, and they are going to be a really important team member; in fact, they are going to be a team leader, and that’s the kind of person that most of the C suite people want to hire, and they will work themselves up the ranks, and eventually they will be the C suite people.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Some of the graduates of this program will not aspire to go into big corporate America, they will aspire to be entrepreneurs, invent the next great app or really create some wonderful products and pieces of intellectual property, how will they benefit from the skills they have developed and the legal training in the program, these future entrepreneurs?

Leslie Oster: I think it’s hard for startups to be able to hire all the different disciplines that they need to bear the development of their products. So having people who can wear multiple hats, who can be a little bit jack of all trades is very helpful in a startup environment.

One of our graduates in fact worked on a company while she was a student, and we have a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurship within the program, and now she is the Chief Intellectual Property Officer for a company that just won $500,000 in a venture competition.

So I think we tend to attract people who are interested in entrepreneurship and they get a lot of skills; they learn about venture capital, they learn about entrepreneurial finance, the legal aspects of entrepreneurship, some of the skills that are required, I think they are well-prepared.

Emerson H. Tiller: And I think also that we teach them that law is not a one-stop shop where when you start your business that’s when you need law. We really train them that there is a constant maintenance of the organization that law plays an important part.

You have employees who come and ago, you have contracting with vendors that come and go, you invent new things that may need intellectual property protection, through the whole life of the organization there are legal risks and opportunities, and the ability to anticipate those early on, not only when you start the company, but throughout the process in the life of the company really gives you an advantage in making your strategic moves in your industry.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Well, we are two years into the program and I guess Kevin Costner was right, if you build it, they will come, and they are coming. So how would one of our listeners who has a STEM background and has some of this remarkable experience that you speak of, how would they find their way to our program?

Leslie Oster: Well, they can just go to the law school’s website and look under degree programs, the MSL is listed there. Our website is chock-full of information about our curriculum, about the program, the scheduling, all the unique aspects of it. In addition, we have a monthly webinar where students can ask questions about the program and all of our alumni, and now we have almost 40, are also willing to talk to prospective students about what the program has to offer.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Well, thank you for joining us and this is a remarkable program. And just to end where we started out, it’s very much about the future. It’s about the interface of law, business and technology and how we are preparing, not only lawyers to lead in a new economy, but training these folks who are not going to become lawyers, but are going to, shall we say, run the world. So thank you.

Emerson H. Tiller: Thank you Dean.

Leslie Oster: Thanks.

Daniel B. Rodriguez: Thank you for joining me. This is Planet Lex podcasting from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, Illinois. Thank you.

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The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Northwestern University, Legal Talk Network or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


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Episode Details
Published: July 15, 2016
Podcast: Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast
Category: Law School , Legal News , Legal Technology
Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast
Planet Lex: The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Podcast

Planet Lex is a series of conversations about the law, law and society, law and technology, and the future of legal education and practice. In other words, a bunch of interesting stuff about the law.

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