Meet The Class: David Lee, 1L, An Inventor and Entrepreneur with an MPH and MBA

With an MBA and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH), David Lee, 1L, has already had a diverse and interesting background that includes medical research, business-process improvement, innovation and invention, and entrepreneurship. Notably, he started an industrial hemp farm and invented a machine that helps with mushroom cultivation (patent pending).


Could you discuss a little bit about your background?

1L David Lee
1L David Lee started one of the first industrial hemp farms in the country

The son of Korean immigrants, I grew up as one of the only east Asians in a rural county in Florida before undergrad in upstate New York after which I was involved in a variety of medical research projects that ranged from growing human kidney tissue in petri dishes to working with surgical robots. After getting my MPH, I started one of the first industrial hemp farms in the country. I then used my MBA to get a job at General Mills where I got to work on DEI initiatives, global system implementations, and enterprise-level process improvement among other projects under their HR umbrella. My background is too eclectic to fit here. Please ask me about it if you’re interested!

Could you describe one or two of your interesting life experiences? 

While living on the hemp farm, I became interested in mushrooms for their taste and well-documented health benefits. Since gourmet mushrooms were hard to find and expensive, I grew my own. I began to automate this tedious process and by the time I was pursuing my MBA had built a machine that effectively regulated CO2, humidity, and light for the purpose of mushroom cultivation. I competed successfully in a business idea competition which gave me the funds to partner with several restaurants and apply for patent protections. When COVID impacted the restaurant industry, I miniaturized the technology for home cooks and hope to receive decisions from the USPTO on the new innovations soon!

What do you hope/plan to do with your legal education (realizing, of course, that may change during the course of your studies)?

I hope to pursue a career in public interest law. I’m passionate about the intersection of the environment, agriculture, and food policy. My experience on a small farm, my graduate work in public health, and the exposure I had through work at General Mills to a large food company’s thoughts about the future of soil ecology and regenerative agriculture inspire me to revisit and deepen my understanding of the interplay between these topics again and again. I believe that this is an important and underdeveloped area of law that has broad implications.

There are many law school choices. Why did you select Minnesota Law?

Minnesota Law’s location gives students great exposure to experiential learning and career opportunities that are not available to a similar degree at most peer law schools. I also had very positive interactions with students, staff, and faculty during my decision-making process that gave me confidence that the culture at Minnesota Law is one that aligns with my social and intellectual values. 

Minnesota Law as an institution emphasizes leadership. What does leadership mean to you?

Someone whose actions convey integrity, self-awareness, and a willingness to do what needs to be done despite personal sacrifice is a leader. Leadership is service—it cannot exist without community. Leadership can come from anyone.

What are you most looking forward to about being a law student?

I’m excited to be part of and contribute to a stimulating community of gifted and intellectually curious people who will challenge me to grow as an aspiring lawyer and as a person.

What are your hobbies/ interests? 

My current interests are additive manufacturing, regenerative agriculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, tennis, travel, mycology, energy, the democratization of computing, and entrepreneurship. 

How do you like to spend your free time?

I play tennis you can even find me at Michael Lynn’s Tennis Shop in Saint Louis Park stringing tennis rackets on occasion. I also like to make things.

Something interesting about me that others might not know.

I have chickens in my backyard that live in an automated solar-powered coop that I built. Their names are Henifer Lopez (now Henifer Affleck?), Amelia Eggheart, Princess Lay-a, and Mary Poopins.