It is often said, by non-lawyers, that there are too many lawyers. We might also ask whether there are too many law professors, and whether the supply of scholarship produced by those law professors exceeds any conceivable demand. This issue was highlighted for me today when I received the most recent Current Index of Legal Periodicals (CILP), which is published once every week or two and includes citations to all the new articles and papers that law professors like me, as well as law students, are publishing. The December 4, 2009 issue contains references to 31 new issues of law journals (every law school publishes up to three or four distinct journals, plus various associations of legal scholars have their own journals), including a total of 304 (by my quick count) articles, essays, lectures, case notes, and book reviews.
Many of those articles are excellent, some may even be ground breaking; many others are not so good. For the most part, I (presumably like most of my colleagues) scan the CILP looking for articles that directly relate to my current research projects; I simply don't have time to even look at other pieces, unless they are authored by friends or favorite scholars. More importantly, as I scan the CILP, I imagine hundreds of other legal scholars (and possibly a few intellectually curious judges or lawyers) scanning the CILP and moving right past my own articles, as if they do not even exist. It makes me wonder why I bother to write (and, believe me, writing is a bother). Of course, I have to write anyway. It's simply what I do, part of who I am.
In any case, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to all my colleagues in the legal academy who put their hearts and minds into writing important and interesting articles and essays that I will never have the time to read.