A popular refrain of late is "How many law schools do we need?!?!" A valid question to be sure. I, however, would like to pose a somewhat related one. Namely, how many law journals do we need?
Now, I am not referring to new schools starting their own general journals -- I think every law school should produce a journal if, for no other reason, than to provide their students with the opportunity to work on a journal. Instead, I'm referring to the proliferation of secondary journals.
Don't get me wrong -- I love secondary journals and I think that, in many respects, they play an essential role in the legal academy. For example, a speciality journal dedicated to an area of law that has historically been looked down upon by general law reviews (legal writing is one example that comes to mind) can provide a much needed outlet to those (both scholars and readers) in that field. But as schools add more and more to the list, I just wonder at what point are we maybe hurting the academy. After all, each new journal that pops up needs to publish something (how else could it justify its existence). Assuming the number of available articles remains constant, the more journals out there accepting submissions, the more articles get accepted. And up to a point, that's great!
However, I'm also assuming that only a certain percentage of available articles are of publishable quality (having worked as a law review editor, I feel fairly confident with this assumption, but feel free to correct me). Yet, the more articles that are needed to fill all the available journals, the more likely are those of unpublishable quality to nonetheless find a home. And it is no doubt those articles that critics of the field will seize upon when looking for a way to criticize legal scholarship.
Of course, maybe none of this should matter. Indeed, who is to say what's "of publishable quality"? Plus, these same arguments can be levied against general journals (of course, with the addition of a general journal at a new law school, we have the addition of a new law faculty producing scholarship). In addition, perhaps it doesn't matter what's published, given that we can all read and thus figure out for ourselves what is good and what is not. Finally, more journals provide more opportunities for students to work on a journal.
So I'm curious. What's your opinion? The more the merrier or is there a point of diminishing returns?