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 highlight Ying Chen (MSL ’19). She works in Intellectual Property Law as an associate at King & Wood Mallesons, an international firm based in Hong Kong. We spoke with Chen about the MSL program’s innovation and the best advice she got while at Northwestern Pritzker Law.
What is the best piece of advice you received in law school?
Don’t be afraid to present yourself. As an international student with little prior work experience, I was naturally anxious about the job search process. Evan Goldberg, director of External Outreach, encouraged me to reach out actively and not shy from presenting my background, which was helpful in the job search and long-term career development.
How has the MSL program impacted your career trajectory?
I have always wanted to work in the intersection of law and technology. The MSL program helped me build a good foundation in IP law and helped me set foot in the IP law industry.
What do you apply from your MSL studies to your career today?
Besides the hard skillsets, such as patent and trademark law, I also found the soft skillsets I learned from MSL very helpful. For example, “Communicating Scientific Information” by Adjunct Professor Cole Fauver, “Public Persuasion” by Professor Jason DeSanto, and “Quantitative Reasoning in Law” by Professor Jonathan Koehler were classes on effectively communicating by speaking and writing with clarity and conveying scientific information in a non-confusing way. These skills are very helpful when communicating with colleagues and clients.
What was innovative about the program during your time as a student?
I feel very fortunate that my year in the MSL program was fully in-person and unaffected by the pandemic. During the school year, we had multiple opportunities to attend career and advising fairs and connect with professionals with profound experience in the industry, which gave us valuable perspectives on how to apply what we learn in the real world.
Do you have advice for future MSL applicants?
My advice would be to spend some time exploring new areas. The MSL program offers classes in different areas such as business and entrepreneurship, IP, and medical compliance, and gathers students from diverse backgrounds. I cannot think of a better time to learn about the exciting changes in the frontier of law, business, and technology.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.