Conference Explores the Relationship Between Law and Innovation

June 23, 2015

Over 100 faculty, students, lawyers, scientists, engineers, doctors, and entrepreneurs gathered at Northwestern Law on June 17 for a one-day conference titled “Bridges not Barriers: The Law-STEM Alliance as a Catalyst for Innovation.” The conference explored the role of law, policy, and regulation in the innovation process; and the role of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs in the process of law and policy-making.

Session I

View all session videos

The conference came as the Law School prepares to start the second year of its unique Master of Science in Law (MSL) program. The program, designed to give professionals with STEM backgrounds an understanding of today’s complex legal and regulatory environment, highlights Northwestern Law’s commitment to being a leader at the intersection of law, business, and technology. Thirty students earned the degree in the first year, and 45 to 50 are expected to attend in the 2015-16 school year. 

Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez and Dean Julio M. Ottino of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science opened the day in a discussion about the intricate relationship between the law and scientific innovation moderated by Esther Barron, the Harry B. Reese Teaching Professor of Law and the director of the Entrepreneurship Law Center in the Bluhm Legal Clinic. They were followed by panels of industry experts and academicians on biotechnology and medicine, data security and privacy, and energy and the environment. John Veschi, CEO of Marquis Technologies, and Brian Beeler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Horizon Pharma, co-delivered a keynote lunch presentation. Professors David Schwartz and James Speta, along with law and doctoral student Ryan Whalen (JD/PhD ‘16), led a wrap-up session at the end of the day, noting that two of the major themes they distilled were the importance of both developing coherent frameworks and interdisciplinary training.