Emory Student Blends Business, Law and Science

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Ziglar graduated from Princeton in 1995 and spent some time as an investment banker in New York City and San Francisco. He then did a stint with a software company before deciding to go to law school.

With his business background and interest in pursuing corporate law, Ziglar was a good fit for the TI:GER program, and is one of 15 third-year and 14 second-year JD students in the program now. Participants are divided into teams of one PhD science student and one MBA student - both from Georgia Tech, plus two JD students from Emory - one who specializes in IP law, and the other who focuses on business or corporate law.

The team that Ziglar is on demonstrates both the rewards and challenges of the TI:GER program. The PhD student in the group is developing modeling software for semiconductor design, he says. This invention is one of those in the program that has immediate commercial applications, says Ziglar, and it is nearly complete.

The work - and seeing what the scientists come up with - is exciting, says Ziglar. ''They are far smarter than we are,'' says Ziglar of his PhD student colleagues. The TI:GER program serves to show the different working methods and outlooks of the students from each area, and lets them understand and value each other's strengths. The scientists have vision, and long-range goals; they focus on the invention itself, says Ziglar. The JD and MBA students, however, can help the scientist navigate from ''step 1'' to ''step 20'' and reach their goals in the best way.

This takes a lot of work, and a lot of time, a commitment which is one challenge for TI:GER program participants. The law student on Ziglar's team with an IP focus needed to leave the program due to time constraints, he says, although she is still at Emory Law. The program requires far more time than a regular law school class. The time spent on a project depends on the group and on the project at hand, says Ziglar. Some weeks, his team puts in ''a ton of hours,'' says Ziglar, and some weeks are slower, like any work at a real-world business.

There are several fields of science involved in the TI:GER program team projects, not just computer-science. Other projects include inventions in biomedical science, rapid prototyping of new products, and cell biology.

The PhD science students are selected for the program first, then the right number of MBA and JD students are chosen, and put on teams with the scientists. Once accepted to the program, the JD students hear presentations by the PhD students on their inventions. Then the JD students rank their top three choices for the PhD student/ project to work with, says Ziglar; many got their first choices.

''The course is great because it really is interdisciplinary,'' says Ziglar. All team participants become more knowledgeable about their own fields- PhD science students see the legal and business sides of their work, MBAs get a window into science and the law, and the JD students get a better understanding of the scientific process and the business world.

Faculty members in charge of the program are open to student suggestions, says Ziglar, and some fine-tuning has been done to TI:GER.

One change is the addition of a link to Georgia Tech's Venture Lab, says Ziglar. Venture Lab is a resource for science and technology faculty members at Georgia Tech, explains Professor Margo Bagley, who oversees the program on the Emory side. Scientists can use the lab to create early-stage inventions, which are ultimately owned by the university.

For T program participants, however, if their team's science invention development is not moving at a pace to match with the legal research, and there is a necessary pause on that front, then MBA and JD students in the second program year can work with real-life inventions - and their related business and legal issues - at Venture Lab. The law students work under the supervision of a law school faculty member, and assist the licensed attorney in doing legal work for Venture Lab inventors and inventions.

While, ultimately, JD students in the program do not draft actual patents or licensing agreements or create companies - students cannot practice law in the course - they do get a feel for what it is like to work with professionals in other fields closely linked to their own.

The summer after his first year, Ziglar worked in the corporate group at the firm Womble Carlyle. For his second summer, he worked in the technology group at Kilpatrick Stockton. Right now Ziglar is trying to decide on his next career step - whether he would like to go into venture capital business, or into venture capital law.

Either way, the TI:GER program served him well. Overall, Ziglar says, the TI:GER course has been the most practical piece of his law school education.

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