What if faculty members published their articles exclusively in their “home” journals? That would eliminate the focus on the “placement” of a piece, hopefully with increased attention to actual content as a result, and motivate both students and faculty to do more high quality work, I’d suspect. Bias against scholarly subject areas would be reduced, and generalized bias against faculty at lower tier law schools would no longer affect the “sorting function” that placements have on junior faculty writers. Law faculties that produced good, relevant scholarship would see their home journals get numerous citations. Law faculties that did not woudl see the impact of their home journals and the reputation of their law schools suffer, and deservedly so.
And what if, as is the case at at Yale Law School (or so I understand it), any student who wants to could work on the in-house journals? Laboring hard and well enough for appointment to the Editorial Board would motivate participants to do good work, and good editors would not be excluded from journal participation due to their grades. Publishing a note or comment would become a possibility for the entire student body, rather than just those who excelled on exams thier first year, making the process more competitive, which could lead to better student scholarship. Earning a spot on the Editorial Board would be just as prestigious as it is now, or perhaps even more so. If students didn’t do good work, they would face real and immediate consequences in terms of a bad grade (if law review work constituted a “course”) and the face to face ire of their professors. Students that put forth superior efforts could enjoy enthusiastic references from faculty members who might not otherwise have recognized their talent and potential.
A little half-baked, perhaps, but ideas to ponder, anyway.