Category Archives: Student Profile

Law, Technology, and Business

At this year’s Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC), three entrepreneurial Northwestern Law students and alumni successfully pitched their startups and earned seed funding to help bring their enterprises to market.

Drawing students from across disciplines and campuses at Northwestern together for an entrepreneurial competition is at the heart of NUVC. Conceived eight years ago, the competition has grown into a vital network of Northwestern-affiliated innovators and leaders.

Northwestern Law student Kieren Patel photographed near the Segal Visitor's Center on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL

Kieren Patel (JD-MBA ’16)

This year, Opticent Health, launched by Kieren Patel (JD-MBA ’16) won first prize at the NUVC competition on June 4, earning $45,000 in startup capital. Opticent Health is one of three participating startups, including MDAR Technologies and Hazel Technologies, with Law School students or alumni as part of their company leadership. NUVC is divided into five competitive tracks: business products; consumer products; green energy and sustainability; life sciences and medical; and social enterprise. This year, the competition began with 86 applicants and over the course of two rounds they were winnowed down to five, the strongest in each category. In the final round teams give presentations in front of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from around the country.

Patel’s startup designs and manufactures optical medical devices, specifically creating non-invasive tests for eye disease. In addition to winning first prize across the whole competition, Opticent Health also won first prize in the life sciences and medical track of the competition. Patel, the president and CEO of Opticent, has a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology and has distinguished himself at Northwestern as an Innovation to Commercialization Fellow (I2C), which gives graduate students first-hand experience in handling intellectual property for innovations developed at Northwestern University.

Patel says the idea behind Opticent Health was born from talking to his father, an ophthalmologist of 35 years, who had recently attended a seminar in Los Angeles where Northwestern biomedical engineering professor Hao Zhang outlined an imaging technique that would produce richer optical scans by delving into tissue health. During Patel’s I2C Fellowship he worked with Zhang to “translate the technology from bench to bedside.” Zhang is now Opticent’s chief science officer.

Patel believes NUVC helped shape the final product: “NUVC was a terrific opportunity to pressure test our company’s business case and commercialization plan with seasoned and knowledgeable judges.”

Northwestern Law student Jesse Chang photographed near the Segal Visitor's Center on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL

Jesse Chang (JD-MBA ’16)

Jesse Chang (JD-MBA ’16) is also an I2C Fellow and the leader behind MDAR Technologies, which pioneered a new form of motion-contrast 3D scanning that helps autonomous vehicles respond more accurately in difficult driving conditions. MDAR Technologies won third prize in the overall competition and first in the business products track.

Amy Garber (MSL ’15) started Hazel Technologies, LLC this year with classmates from her NUvention Energy course. Their product, FruitBrite, seeks to slow down the fruit ripening process, so that produce lasts longer and generates less waste. During the market research phase of the course Garber and her team discovered the retail sector loses billions of dollars annually in lost produce, so they set on a path to focus on retail and distribution as their core markets.

Masters of Science in Law program student at Northwestern Law in Chicago, IL. Photo credit: Randy Belice

Amy Garber (MSL ’15)

Hazel Tech won second place in the green energy and sustainability track, and Garber serves as the chief intellectual property officer. That role has proven instrumental in both evaluating patented technology and structuring financial deals. Garber describes herself as a “liaison between law and technology.” Garber is a member of the first class of Master of Science in Law graduates at Northwestern Law, a program designed to bring together leaders with science backgrounds and provide business-centered legal training.

NUVC is run primarily by EPIC, an undergraduate student group, with support from the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Meet an Alum: Vishal Kampani MSL ’15


Name: Vishal Kampani        

Program: Master of Science in Law (MSL)

Hometown: Doha, Qatar

Prior Education: Texas A & M University. College Station, Texas. Major: Biomedical Engineering. Class of 2008. University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. Major: Electrical Engineering. Class of 2005.

Pre-MSL Program Professional Experience: I worked for General Electric Health Care (GEHC) in Cleveland, Ohio for six years. My positions with GEHC included: Lead Coil Design Engineer; Lead Coil Integrator and Safety Engineer. I was a design engineer of RF coils, a medical device, for MRI systems. A coil functions similar to a radio antenna.    

Chicago Neighborhood You Live In: Streeterville

Any Extracurricular Activities You Participated In: I assisted the MSL program administrators in educating prospective MSLers on the program and its benefits. I also served as a student representative at faculty/staff meetings at which we discussed possible ways to enhance the MSL curriculum going forward.

Why You Chose Northwestern Law’s Master of Science in Law Program: To differentiate myself from all the engineers and MBAs in the job market. I wanted to carve a unique entrepreneurial and corporate job pathway. Finally, I believed the MSL would help me develop confidence in legal and business decision making and teach me to assess opportunities and risks.

Favorite Thing About Northwestern Law’s Master of Science in Law Program: Student diversity!

The team projects and class simulations not only gave me a chance to apply the technical course concepts, but also receive invaluable feedback from peers and professors.

One Piece of Advice for Incoming MSL Students: In addition to taking classes in areas of your interest, take some classes in areas that you have little knowledge of to broaden your horizon. This may spark your interest in a new field.

Summer Plans or Post-Graduation Plans: I am going to join a small MRI coil design company as the Director of Engineering. This role involves the responsibilities of a traditional engineering manager as well as managing the company’s patent portfolio and communicating directly with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The employer gave me this job offer 15 months in advance in large part because they were convinced that the MSL curriculum would teach me the knowledge and skills I needed to excel in this role.

Meet a Student: Marie Salter, JD ’15

Technolutions SlateName: Marie Salter

Program: JD ’15

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Undergraduate Institution and Degree Program(s): Washington University in St. Louis, History and Creative Writing

Pre-Law School Professional Experience: Teach for America — 10th grade English Teacher

Chicago Neighborhood You Live In: Lakeview

Law School Activities: Wigmore Follies, Journal of International Law and Business, Latino Law Students Association

Why You Chose Northwestern Law: Northwestern Law won me over because of the people here! My fellow students are not only smart and talented, but are also from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Everyone has a different story and we benefit from sharing those experiences! I also loved the idea of going to school in the city. It’s an amazing place to be a student with all the city has to offer — art, music, nightlife, and public transit to get to all of it! It’s also a great boon for your career, since law firms and legal organizations are easily accessible for networking.

Favorite Thing About Northwestern Law: Northwestern Law truly allows you to carve your own path. My class schedules have reflected my personal interests from year one. I’ve taken real estate and environmental classes every year, and when I finally ran out I was able to craft my own senior research project working with my favorite professor on a topic I’m really passionate about!

One Piece of Advice for Incoming Law Students: Don’t forget to be a person as well as a law student. There are tons of ways to explore your personal passions while still focusing on school. I love music, so I’ve been involved with Wigmore Follies since my 1L year and it’s an amazing outlet for those things. I would be a worse student if I didn’t get to sing and dance a little too! No matter where you go to school, don’t ignore the things that matter to you.

Summer Plans or Post-Graduation Plans I’ll be joining the Real Estate Department at Katten Muchin Rosenman in Chicago. Before starting at my firm, I’ll also be doing a fellowship at Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental organization.

Meet a Student: Paloma Naderi, AJD ’16

Paloma Naderi” After working in a big law firm as a Legal Assistant, I was already sure about my career goals before I entered law school and knew that the AJD program would allow me to start achieving those goals as soon as possible. While the three-year students were engaged in their 1L summer jobs after a full year of classes, I was entering the classroom for the first time, completing a full schedule of courses in just three months, and was ready to interview for summer associateships right alongside them in the Fall On-Campus Interviewing Program.

Aside from the great benefit of being able to quickly transfer my passion for working in law into the legal job search, the employers I interviewed with responded with enthusiasm to the program’s rigorous pace and our cohort’s ambition and drive in completing it.  While the first summer of the program was challenging, I was able to start the fall semester with courses that truly interested me, taking electives and immersing myself in clinic experiences just four months after beginning law school.

For the hard-working student with clear career goals, the AJD program is a smart and rewarding choice that will allow them to hit the ground running on their legal careers the moment they walk through the door.”

You can learn more about the AJD program on the Northwestern Law website.