How many law professors could hack law firm life? Maybe it's best not to ask such an embarrassing question.
I accept J.B.'s assertion that his hierarchy does not hinge on the amount of effort involved in the production of each category of scholarship. J.B. does seem to assume, though, that within a class of writers (associates, professors, etc.), empirical research is harder than theory and theory is harder than doctrine. From this perspective, J.B.'s hierarchy does depend in part on cost. I don't think that a cost-based orientation is inherently mistaken. In any event, J.B. forswears reliance on cost, and I agree that looking for value, whether defined as value added or value in the aggregate, is the proper pursuit.
Ally 1, Academia 0
Let me sum up. It is possible, at a minimum, to evaluate legal scholarship according to (1) the practical difficulty or intellectual beauty of its methodology, (2) its intended audience, (3) the value added by the scholar relative to the work of a nonscholarly legal professional, or (4) its overall value, either to a specialized field or to society at large. In other words, scholarship can be assessed, like law itself, according to its form, its intended purpose, or its actual effect. Because it's hard to assess actual effects, lawyers and judges often use form and purpose as shortcuts. Unsurprisingly, legal academics do the same when evaluating their own work. But all parties, I suspect, would do well to pursue direct measures of the only criterion that counts: real-world impact.