As associate general counsel with the 3D-printing startup, Nissan unified her interests in technology and the law.
Ariel Nissan (’16) can’t remember wanting to be anything other than a lawyer. As a kid who “liked to argue,” she decided at a young age that she wanted to go to law school. She was also interested in understanding how the world around her functioned, so she studied bioengineering at Clemson University. BU Law helped her unify those interests, and brought her to Formlabs Inc., a 3D-printing startup in Somerville, Mass., where she is associate general counsel.
When she started at BU Law, Nissan was initially set on a career in intellectual property law because the blend of technology and law appealed to her. The broad curriculum of classes in her first year, however, exposed her to new aspects of the law—contracts, litigation, corporate and business law. She says the broad mixture of seminars and large lectures available at BU Law also gave her a holistic view of the law, which is critical to her work as associate general counsel.
Nissan interned at Formlabs throughout law school, and was fascinated by the numerous applications of 3D printing. When she joined the company, it was just starting out, with roughly 40 to 50 employees. The startup now has over 200.
“It’s been really great to be involved in the company at every level,” she says. “It’s interesting to see that as I grow in my role, the company is also growing.”
As the associate general counsel, Nissan tackles any and all legal issues that the company deals with, from working on contracts to legal research and writing patents. She says BU Law showed her possibilities beyond of patent law.
“Staying open and curious as I pursued new subjects and other opportunities at BU Law allowed me to fully understand that the roots of my interest in the law stretched beyond patent law,” she says. “I got a concrete look into what actual, practicing lawyers were doing and what was possible in the field. This helped give me the confidence to pursue a unique opportunity to work in house at a small company right after law school.”
Since graduating and returning to Formlabs, Nissan has challenged herself to seek out experiences that will help her grow. She strives to pull lessons from her work every day so she can learn and progress.
“It’s about finding improvement,” she says. “The first time you do something it’s not going to be great. It’s about pulling the lessons so that the next time you can be better.”