I have long had in my mind a metaphor to describe specialist in-house lawyers. It hearkens back to my law school years: courses on anti-trust, corporations, environmental law, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, and tax. Larger law departments have one or more lawyers who concentrate on issues that arise under – and are mostly circumscribed by – those scholarly areas of law. Specialists serve sometimes as lawyers to lawyers, in that when business unit generalists need arcane advice they stand ready. Other problems they take on independently (See my post of May 5, 2008: specialty lawyers with 30 references.).
Business oriented lawyers devote themselves mostly to contracts and agreements and don’t dive deeply into specialty areas. They spot issues. It is true that a course on contracts awaits all 1Ls, so the distinction based on the law school curriculum has some blur. But my metaphor for specialists remains the matching law school course.