As stated (See my post of Aug. 9, 2006 on core competencies.), if a core competency is a strategic decision to press the pedal on some areas of law, then how does a law department throttle back other areas? Some brakes include triage, de minimis standards for what the department will handle, low priority to certain work, self-help by clients (See my post of Feb. 16, 2006 and posts cited.), clients going more to outside counsel, and delegation.
Does a concentration on core-competency work require more senior (read, expensive) lawyers? Not necessarily. Junior lawyers can also contribute on core services.
Is it possible for small law departments, with two to five lawyers, as much as for larger departments to nurture core competencies? No, not as likely. When there are only a few lawyers, they are likely to be generalists.
If you narrow the work done inside to core work, won’t you find yourself retaining more external counsel? Or retaining different firms than before, on different terms? Possibly all of these changes, if you retain firms to handle peripheral work; but as you climb the skill curve of core competencies, you use law firms in those areas less (See my post of Dec. 5, 2005 on the reverse pyramid of what work should go outside.).
Is any specialist lawyer a core-competency lawyer? Neither litigation nor employment issues should be privileged, because the unblemished, well-run company will confront little of either. The same holds for environmental problems. No corporation exists to sue and be sued, deal with discrimination and harassment, or to pollute the countryside.