On Monday, May 8, Wendy L. Rubas, chief legal officer at Working Smarter, delivered a keynote address as part of the Master of Science in Law (MSL) program’s 5th Annual Symposium – an event designed to highlight the importance of cross-disciplinary awareness at the intersection of law, business, and STEM.
Rubas kicked off the two-day Symposium in Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Thorne Auditorium with a message of optimism and excitement: The legal industry is ready to innovate, and MSL students are poised to be at the forefront of that change.
“All of a sudden, things that people have been talking about for a long time are coming fast,” Rubas said. In order to turn this corner, she said, organizations need to bring in professionals with new skills. “They need scientists. They need technologists. They need people with different training and background.”
This need for diverse skillsets and training that Rubas mentioned is where the MSL population comes in. Program participants come to the Law School with a range of STEM-based backgrounds, ranging from healthcare to engineering and IT. Others come in with STEM-adjacent foundations, focusing on the application of law within entrepreneurial endeavors or tech-based companies. Many graduates will take their law school knowledge from the MSL and apply it to careers across a wide spectrum of industries: healthcare, biomedical, chemical manufacturing, intellectual property, data, technology, and more.
“What the MSL program is really doing in training all of you,” Rubas said, “is providing you with an infinite number of options for career pathways.”
Although she’s not a graduate of the MSL herself, Rubas is no stranger to the program and the value its graduates bring to developing industries. During her five-year tenure as corporate counsel with healthcare-tech company VillageMD, Rubas hired about a dozen MSL graduates to work for her legal team. Just this past year, she touted the program and its graduates on the CLOC Talk podcast by The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, and has also given her praise to the MSL on LinkedIn.
Now, as head of her own consulting firm, Rubas is teaching other business and legal teams how to create efficient legal departments.
During her speech, Rubas provided a snapshot of the insights she’s gained from her experience working both as corporate counsel and with a team of MSL students.
Being a student in the MSL is not just about landing a job, Rubas said, but rather, it’s an opportunity to lead. It’s about leading and paving new ways for how legal, risk, compliance, and business teams operate. It may be hard, but it can also be exciting.
“If you take nothing else away from my remarks,” she said, “that’s my message for you, which is one of optimism and congratulations for finding your way here, and for all of the things that you’ll go on to do.”