The transcript of an intriguing panel discussion among a group of distinguished legal scholars was posted recently on SSRN. The paper entitled Crafting a Scholarly Persona: A Panel Discussion by Ian Ayres, Paul Robinson, Carol Sanger, Kimberly Ferzan reports the proceedings of a American Association of Law Schools panel on crafting a scholarly persona, sponsored by the Section on Scholarship. Each panelist addressed a number of fundamental questions including “why do you write?” “How do you decide what to write about?” “How do you stay productive?”, etc.
One lesson that emerges from the discussion is that there are many different paths, motivations and styles that work for acheiving scholarly success. It helps to learn what works for others, but what seems most important to individual success is to find what works for you. Clearly this involves a lot of trial and error and false starts. The panelists each relate that they made mistakes early in their careers and adjusted their decision-making and work habits until they found an approach to research and scholarship that worked for them.
The reflections of the panelists, although apparently aimed at beginning scholars, seem valuable for scholars at all stages of their careers. If only because the comments of panelists can lead to valuable self-reflection.