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Mentoring Prawfs

Law professors who teach intellectual property and information law subjects are, on the whole, a pretty lively, friendly, and social bunch, and our numbers are growing.  The market has a seemingly endless capacity to absorb new faculty, as law schools across the rankings spectrum hire first one, then a second, and increasingly a third IP specialist.

If my informal conference conversations are any guide, then there is a growing and largely unmet need for mentoring among junior IP scholars — even while law schools appoint Research Deans and develop robust in-house mentoring schemes.  I’d like to use this post to kick off what I hope will be a broader conversation about mentoring junior law faculty, across the disciplinary spectrum.

Under the broad “mentoring” umbrella, questions include:

1.  From the perspective of a junior scholar, what’s the best use of a works-in-progress conference?  What’s the best structure for a works-in-progress conference?  IP is awash in these things.  (Take a look at my IP Conferences blog for a sample, and a calendar.)  There is the IP Scholars Conference (IPSC) in August, the Works-in-Progress-Intellectual-Property (WIPIP) conference in the Fall, and the IP Scholars Roundtable in February.  Should folks aim for just one (which one)?  More than one?  Is it worth going if you don’t present a paper?  What’s the best way to prepare for and get value out of the conference as a whole? 

2.  Working paper conferences aside, how much time should a new scholar try to invest in traveling and speaking in connection with scholarship?

3.  Is there a highest and best use for SSRN and blogs, when it comes to developing and distributing drafts and new papers?

4.  How should a junior scholar prioritize a list of possible paper topics? 

This is obviously a preliminary and nonexclusive list of questions, and it focuses on scholarship rather than teaching or service or other things.  Mentoring can and should cover the latter as well.

Who is supposed to answer?  Ideally, comments here (and elsewhere, if the thread gets picked up at, say, Prawfs, Co-Op, or the Faculty Lounge) will fall roughly into the following categories:

Junior faculty asking mentoring questions.

Senior faculty responding with mentoring answers.

And — perhaps most important — senior faculty volunteering mentoring advice, that is, talking about things that junior faculty may not know or think or be willing to ask, but should.

I’ll post more shortly.  But don’t wait on my account.  Fire away.