A Theory of the Academic Labor Market:

Steve Teles has an interesting discussion here.

He suggests that a nontrivial amount of academic quality is "endogenously" produced, e.g., that the "rich get richer" when it comes to scholarly success. This is almost certainly true and, it seems to me, it may even be even more pronounced in law schools. Most of the factors he identifies applies with equal force to legal academia, such as access to resources, research assistants, etc. Even the recognition and resources of institutions such as the Olin Foundation and the Federalist Society disproportionately flow to the top of the law school food chain. But the legal academy's unique institutional arrangement that it has neither peer review nor blind submission seems to strongly reinforce the factors that Steve notes in other fields.

In particular, it is my impression that law reviews operate very strongly on a signaling model of article quality. Because of their relative inexperience and lack of knowledge, law review editors seem to have difficulty accurately determining quality directly. To deal with this information problem, it appears that law review editors rely heavily on a signaling model of quality--i.e., if you are a "known" person or teach at a high-ranked school, this is thought to serve as a proxy for quality. And once your articles appear in a brand-name law review, you are thought to be important or accomplished.

This seems to be Teles's endogenous production of scholarly value within the academic market with a vengeance.

As an aside, I certainly don't think of peer review as a panacea for the law review system. The law review system has the advantage of allowing many flowers to blossom and to enable heterodox views to make it into print more readily than does the peer review system (although the peer review system has virtues of its own). So I think an argument could be made on either side of the issue regarding peer review.

But the absence of blind submission and review practices at most law reviews seems simply baffling to me. I can see no possible explanation for how the quality of law reviews and legal scholarship is improved by not having blind submission for law reviews. At least anecdotally, the "letterhead" effect seems quite powerful for law reviews (I am not aware of any rigorous empirical study that has been performed to date--if there is one, please let me know).