To celebrate the 10th year of the Master of Science in Law (MSL) program—where STEM, law, and business converge—Northwestern Pritzker Law is highlighting alumni of the program from each graduating class since its 2014 launch.
The Master of Science in Law was created at a moment of tremendous technological and workforce change, when professionals from diverse fields were being called upon to interact with increasingly complex issues involving regulation, product development, privacy, use of data, contracts, business development, entrepreneurship, and more. The Law School recognized that STEM professionals in particular were often in the thick of these intersectional legal and business issues, but few had the training to address and respond to these challenges.
The launch of the MSL addressed this gap in the market, and the program has grown dramatically over the years – there are now approximately 200 students enrolled in the program annually. With both a full-time and part-time option, and the addition five years ago of an online format that caters to mid-career professionals, the MSL has sent more than 600 well-trained, interdisciplinary professionals into the market.
Following the interests of its students, and always looking to be on the cutting edge, the MSL program now offers more than 80 classes focused at the intersection of law, business, and STEM – including foundational classes in contracts, regulation, business formation, securities, and intellectual property, and an interesting assortment of specialized electives in such areas as fintech, privacy, data security, biotech, food, AI, forensic science, environmental law, IP strategy and management, and many more.
This week we are highlighting Matthew Rubin (MSL ‘20). He is currently working in public policy at Amazon, supporting federal regulatory affairs for Amazon Health Services. We spoke with Rubin about the program, what he’s learned since graduating, and his advice for future MSL candidates.
Seeking the Right Program
Matthew Rubin was not someone who originally pegged himself for law school. After earning an undergraduate degree that focused on neuroscience, he launched a career as a clinical researcher and spent more than a half dozen years working in the oncology drug development space.
Rubin’s experience in the pharmaceutical industry eventually led him into a healthcare consulting role with law firm Faegre Drinker (Faegre Baker Daniels LLC at the time), where he served as the director of health and FDA policy. It was this transition into a policy and lobbyist role that made him want to better understand the application of law and regulation in the healthcare industry.
“What I came to realize is that healthcare is this confluence of a myriad of different specialties. It’s politics, it’s law, it’s business, it’s science,” Rubin says. “The idea of expanding into something that would help me focus on the legal and regulatory space made a lot of sense for me and would complement my clinical background.”
As an established professional, Rubin began researching flexible programs that could accommodate his schedule as a full-time professional.
“I came across the MSL, and the structure of the program really made sense and fit what I was looking for,” he says.
Merging Law with a Background in Healthcare
Since graduating from the MSL, Rubin has moved on to a public policy role for Amazon’s healthcare vertical, where he has worked for the past two-and-a-half years. In his role, he serves as a liaison between Amazon and particular U.S. federal agencies that lead on policy development in the healthcare space, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Food and Drug Administration.
“Federal policy development can have profound impacts on the business,” Rubin says. For example, if the federal administration or an agency proposes a new rule regarding healthcare services, Rubin’s team will work to understand the implications of that rule for Amazon Health Services and its business partners. And thanks to his MSL degree, Rubin has the tools to navigate this process.
“Having a general understanding of how the law functions helps me to be a better policy professional,” Rubin says. Not only does his legal knowledge provide him with a framework for how government operates at the federal, state, and local levels, but it also adds elements of maturity and thoughtfulness to his work as a policy leader – particularly in a rapidly moving space like healthcare.
“What the MSL program really helped me do is to think about a new way of approaching cross-functional issues and problem solving, and that’s something I use on a daily basis,” he says. “In turn, I’m able to quickly apply the learnings from the MSL program, craft an appropriate narrative, and become an effective advocate for particular policies or solutions.”
Storytelling and effective messaging is critical for patient-centric policy development in the healthcare industry. The messaging needs to be compelling, Rubin says, but at the end of the day, the goal is always to provide customers with access to convenient and affordable products and services that will help them get and stay healthy.
Advice for Future Applicants
Rubin’s schedule was full when he enrolled in the MSL. He was a part-time student with a demanding full-time job, and a wedding on the horizon – he got married six-weeks into the program. Given that new classes started every 7 weeks, he had a lot on his plate and prioritization was key.
Learning how to ruthlessly prioritize is one tactic that helped Rubin succeed during his time in the MSL – a tip he emphasizes for future students. But he also recommends striving for more than just completing the course work.
“Allow yourself to get fully engrossed in what the faculty is putting in front of you,” he says. “Dive deep into understanding how you can apply [the course material] almost immediately to your practice or whatever you’re working on at that point in time.”
Finding these real-world applications for the law school material was one of the most compelling parts of the program for Rubin.
“So often what I found is that I’d read something and immediately would be able to tie it back to a product, a problem, or a project that I had at work,” he says. “It would help me think critically and analyze how we can leverage the learnings from the program to help solve real-life problems.”
Rubin’s journey is an example of how law school can open doors and provide valuable on-the-job growth opportunities for established career professionals working in STEM fields. To learn more about the MSL – a law degree catered to those working in STEM and STEM-adjacent fields – and its part-time options, visit law.northwestern.edu/msl.