I'm sure we've discussed this before, but a number of schools still retain incentives for faculty to publish in high-ranked law reviews through bounties/rewards e.g. if any faculty place an article in a journal whose school is ranked in the U.S. News Top [10/20/50 etc], they get a grant or stipend for doing so. I understand that placements are the coin of the realm, but these systems seem strange to me. If faculty are being productive and their scholarship is impactful, I wonder if pressure or encouragement to publish in certain journals creates incentives in some cases to make scholarship less effective than it might otherwise be. For example, this year, I've turned to more internationally focused intellectual property work and have published more in international journals than I usually do. Some of the reason for that focus is that international journals have actually solicited this work, but it's still getting cited and noticed, perhaps more so than it would have in a traditional U.S. law review.
If the argument in favor of publishing in traditional law reviews is that everything is online now anyway, so it doesn't matter where you publish (so why not publish in traditional U.S. law reviews?), I would suggest that is incorrect. While most U.S. law reviews are available online, many of them are not available free of charge online. So the audience would be limited to those who have paper subscriptions or can afford LEXIS/Westlaw access. Of course, the same would be true for journals in other countries and professional journals. So the argument can easily be turned around to say that everything is equally accessible online (sometimes free of charge, and sometimes for a fee), so why not publish in the place where the article will get the most traction?
And of course the fact that bounties exist for prestigious placements doesn't mean that any professor has to aim for a certain kind of placement for every single article. And presumably faculty who don't publish in Top [10/20]50] journals but do publish well have other incentives such as professional reputation enhancement and potentially recognition in base salary?It just seems to me that the express recognition of what "prestigious placement" means can send strange and potentially inaccurate signals to faculty about the definition of good/insightful/impactful scholarship. Thoughts?