Law reviews provide an instructive analogy. Self-doubt often accompanies the launch of a new law journal. First issue law review volumes abound with short pieces by law school deans and other invited authors expressing concern about whether there are already too many law reviews and wondering what yet another one could possibly accomplish. Such pieces typically go on to find some polite (but in truth only nominal) way to distinguish the particular law review under discussion from law reviews generally. ‘This review will surely succeed,’ the pieces assert, either because of the unparalleled skill/energy/dedication/enthusiasm of the journal’s student staff, or the unusual level of support that the journal enjoys from administrators or alumni of the host school, or the importance of the topical areas on which the journal plans to focus.
No doubt it is true that all of these things (staff quality, school support, and topicality) are factors affecting whether a journal will succeed. But the best explanation for why the population of law reviews continues to grow is, I think, the search-driven nature of legal research. Sure, you might want to look up a particular author’s recent works from time to time, and here there may well be a superstar effect. (E.g., legal scholars are more likely to look up the recent works of, say, a star like Posner than to look up the work of a scholar who is not as well known.) But much more often, the search will be issue-targeted rather than author-targeted. And in such searches, every law review on Lexis or Westlaw has at least a decent (if not an equally good) chance of coming up.
As with law reviews, so it is with blogs. New blogs successfully launch all the time. The risk of redundancy need not concern us. Our blog entries should come up when the subject matters on which we write are searched. And in this way we will be making (I hope important) contributions to public discourse.
Sharfman is one of law professors of Five law professors and one anonymous contributor who recently launched Truth on the Market, a blog offering commentary on law, business, economics and other topics. Accompanying him are five professors. Thom Lambert, associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law; Geoffrey Manne, assistant professor at Lewis & Clark Law School; William K. Sjostrom Jr., assistant professor at Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky University; and Joshua D. Wright, assistant professor at George Mason University School of Law.