Wrap-up: 2019 Northwestern Law MSL Entrepreneurship Trip

By Evan Goldberg

Following a whirlwind trip to the Bay Area to learn about legal technology, startups, large companies, and how innovation is changing operations of all of these entities, our MSL Entrepreneurship Team Project students have written blog posts about each company we visited and entrepreneur with whom we met. This week, we’ll publish each of these posts in the order in which we did the meetings. Please follow along on the MSL 360 blog and on Twitter and LinkedIn using #NLawEnTP.

We’re so grateful to all of our hosts. The group was warmly welcomed by an incredible group everywhere we went. Many Northwestern alumni opened their doors to us. Other places we were welcomed by friends of the MSL program new and old. An incredible trip like this isn’t possible without people generously hosting us, taking significant time out of their schedule to plan and meet with us, and showing off their great companies. We are so fortunate to have this impressive network of professionals who are interested in engaging with our students.

Professor Dan Linna, Professor Leslie Oster, Director of the MSL Program, and I led and coordinated this trip. The MSL students who participated are Ying Chen, Xiaolei Cheng, Hao Gao, Jay Jiang, Shao-Hsuan Kao, Kat Klein, Samantha Loren, Shalin Shah, Daniel Torres, and Sage Yang. We were fortunate to be joined by Alex Crowley (JD ’21) throughout the trip.

This is an overview of what will be posted throughout the week. For a full list of the people we met, see our kickoff blog post.

On Monday, we visited Gusto (blog post by Hao and Shalin). Liza Haskell (JD ’12), formerly of Gusto and now of Tide, welcomed our group for an incredible kickoff to the trip. She brought together members of the legal team and our students learned all about legal operations at a mature startup.

Tuesday, we left San Francisco and spent the day in Palo Alto. Tim Harris (JD ’97), managing partner of Morrison Foerster’s (MoFo) Palo Alto office, welcomed us for an informative meeting and a delicious lunch. Not only did our group learn about the firm’s work, how investors and VCs choose targets, and legal support for startups, but Tim gave an unparalleled history of how Silicon Valley came to be the center of entrepreneurship and innovation. The MoFo blog was written by Jay and Sage.

Following our time at MoFo, our students were inspired by the words of Jay Mandal at SAP Ariba (blog post by Xiaolei, Shao-Hsuan, and Kat). He taught students to dream big, achieve those dreams, and then dream bigger. After a trek back to San Francisco, the group headed to Northwestern’s San Francisco campus and heard from sports technology entrepreneur Ashley Wellington-Fahey. Her app, The Relish, allows all sports fans to engage on social media in a safe, welcoming environment. Check out the blog post by Jay and Sage.

Wednesday was our busiest day. We once again left San Francisco and made our way throughout Silicon Valley starting in Foster City. The first meeting, arranged by Bill Ericson (JD ’88), brought together some of the region’s most well-connected and brilliant investors. Wildcat Venture Partners, thought leaders Bill and Geoffrey Moore were joined by Buddy Arnheim, managing partner of Perkins Coie’s Palo Alto office. The combination of their connections and knowledge was unbelievable. Thanks to Ying, Samantha, and Daniel for trapping much of the valuable information we gained from our conversation in this blog post.

Next, we went a few blocks to Gilead’s global headquarters to learn all about their legal operations and legal department. Gary Tully brought together a stellar group of professionals including Brett Pletcher, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary. Our students were in awe of this remarkable opportunity. Xiaolei, Shao-Hsuan, and Kat wrote about it on the blog. From there, we made the trip south to Google’s Mountainview campus to meet with Anand Babu (KSM ’08) to learn all about Google AI’s newest initiatives. While there are many ethical and technical challenges ahead for AI’s various applications, if people like Anand are leading these efforts, we will be in a phenomenal position. He is a caring and thoughtful leader who carefully considers how innovations will impact the world. Jay and Sage wrote about how much they enjoyed it on the blog. From there, we made our way back to San Francisco to meet with Tarun Wadhwa at Northwestern San Francisco. His presentation was thoroughly engaging and brought to light so many things to consider as technology is more deeply integrated into all aspects of life. As you can read on the blog post that Xiaolei, Shao-Hsuan, and Kat wrote, we were energized by Tarun’s presentation and excited for the final two days of our trip.

Mark Chandler and Steve Harmon of Cisco welcomed us at the company’s fabulous Meraki building in San Francisco. The two of them opened up to us and were candid about their professional journeys. Although they run one of the most innovative and impressive legal departments in the world, they were humble, relatable, and genuinely interested in our students. You can read more about it here. Following that meeting, we got to go to legal technology darling Atrium. Nakeena Taylor (JD ’11) with help from Sumin Kim (JD ’13) and many colleagues put together a stellar visit that was keynoted by a meeting with Justin Kan. He is a cool and innovative CEO who sees unique ways in which the practice of law can be iterated and improved. Our Atrium experience is described in detail in this post. That night our group got to join the active alumni community in the area to hear from Prof. Kim Yuracko, Dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. This alumni event highlighted the school’s commitment to deep engagement in the Bay Area.

Friday was our final day, but the group was as interested and engaged as ever. We were incredibly impressed by Nextlaw at Dentons. John Fernandez and Maya Markovich see the future of legal services clearly and have done so much to implement them through Nextlaw as well as share their knowledge worldwide. You can learn about Nextlaw’s innovative approach in this recap. Finally, we got to see some of the world’s coolest technology at Ouster. Myra Pasek (JD ’90) showed us the inner workings of an incredible LIDAR company. Natasha Chu (JD ’15) and Myra took a ton of time to show us around and explain how lawyers support technology that even engineers have a hard time understanding. They have really exciting jobs and we can’t wait to see how their technology changes the world. Read more about our time at Ouster and LIDAR technology here.

This trip was a life-changing experience for our group. We can’t wait to share more with you throughout the week. Thanks to everyone who made this possible and thanks to everyone in our group for representing Northwestern with class.

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