As I noted here, the University of Chicago Law Review and California Law Review are no longer accepting submissions from ExpressO. They now accept articles submitted for five dollars a pop via Scholastica. The Stanford Law Review and Yale Law Journal only accept pieces submitted through their proprietary submission systems. The anachronistic law review publication system has always been problematic - both because law students with limited knowledge make the big decisions and because, given multiple submissions and an expedite bid system, those student editors are asked to read vastlymore articles than they are ever going to have a shot at publishing. (Of course the two are related; you could never find enough faculty volunteers to referee one article seventy-five times per submission season. And efforts to create a referee bank - like this - have had limited success.)
I strongly suspect that the volume generated by the low-cost convenience of ExpressO might literally be breaking this camel's back. If ever there was a time to get journals on board for some sort of rationalization, it might be now. After all, we mock law students for choosing the #53 law school over the #79 law school when the difference is rarely consequential - and when the #79 school might be a better fit that more effectively propels the student into practice. Yet the same is true of law reviews. In a world where 75 mid-market law reviews operated a consortium, pooled resources and made single offers, who would really be worse off? And let's be honest: couldn't the top 5 or 10 journals easily do the same thing? (I put antitrust considerations aside here, particularly in light of my total ignorance of the topic.)
There is another possibility as well: journals could themselves charge for submission. Why shouldn't the Stanford Law Review get the five bucks, rather than a middle-man? And while they're at it: charge twenty bucks for expedites! That might reduce strategic expediting with law reviews an author isn't even interested in considering. To be sure, the top journals would have an easier time with this - everyone would pay the tariff to have a shot at a fabulous placement. Things could get more challenging mid-market because if one group of mid-market journals charges for submission, and another does not, volume might flow towards the free journals (notwithstanding my comments about preferences above). On the other hand, faculty with deep institutional pockets might prefer the costlier journal - all the better the odds of acceptance!
Market research anyone?