Lee Cooper JD '15 MBA '15

Lee Cooper JD '15 MBA '15

Combining healthcare and entrepreneurship

What motivated you to pursue the JD/MBA Program?

I have always been a believer in the power of interdisciplinary thinking to spark creativity and systems thinking, no matter the field you want to impact. A JD/MBA from Columbia offered me a world-class education that would also be practical for my career.

Did you have work experience prior to Columbia?

Prior to Columbia, I was based in the Boston area, working as a strategy consultant to biotech and pharma clients. I also had some prior experience working in Latin American economic development.

Why did you choose to work at Allazo Health during your 1L summer?

Allazo Health was on the cutting edge of using machine learning to improve health outcomes by promoting better medication adherence. I believed in the founder’s mission and the importance of medication adherence, and I wanted to wear some different hats at a health technology startup. Allazo was based out of Blueprint Health, and it was fun working for the summer in an incubator and co-working environment. Additionally, I had an interest in pursuing an internship at a large law firm for my 2L summer, so working in a non-legal role for my 1L summer was important to me.

While at Allazo, I worked on business development and operations, which meant a host of different projects like revamping the investor pitch, redesigning the company website, analyzing the epidemiology of certain therapeutic areas, and publishing a white paper on medication adherence.

Why did you choose to work at Goodwin Proctor during your 2L summer?

Goodwin is a great law firm that takes particular pride in its technology, life sciences, and private equity practices. They also have offices in Boston, Silicon Valley, and New York. The Goodwin name came up frequently in a positive light in my research related to the biotech industry, including in a blog post from a leading venture capitalist who noted that the Goodwin team helped his firm produce a creative deal structure for one of their companies. I also had a sense that many of the larger New York–based financial firms would not be the right cultural fit for me.

I had a great experience at Goodwin with projects like supporting an S-1 filing for an IPO, drafting a private placement memo, drafting a Series B term sheet, and writing a memo on regulatory issues.

Where did you choose to work after graduation, and why?

My job out of Columbia was in corporate development at Moderna Therapeutics. I am now working as an entrepreneur-in-residence at RA Capital, a healthcare-focused investor in Boston.

Moderna was a fast-growing biotech startup, trying to develop new medicines with cutting-edge technology. I liked that Moderna would allow me to help advance new medicines across oncology, infectious disease, and rare genetic disease.

My work included licensing transactions, equity financing, government contracts, and operational partnerships. There was an interesting blend of law and business because my job involved negotiating contracts tied to underlying business needs for building a company and developing new technologies.

What advice would you give to current and aspiring JD/MBA students?

The best careers are rarely linear, and life is precious. Do things that help you find meaning, make the world better, and constantly prepare you to be the person you want to be. I think certain traditional legal paths can be incredibly rewarding and intellectually engaging, but I knew that they probably were not the best choice for me in the long-run. Luckily, a Columbia JD/MBA can be great preparation for so many things, so enjoy the process!