It is a good practice to designate “minors” for many of your in-house lawyers – secondary areas of law they should keep up on for the benefit of the entire department. Their “minor” knowledge, which may relate to their primary discipline but certainly has importance from time to time to others, becomes a shared resource for the other lawyers in the department.
As he explained at a PLI conference, Ed Greene’s lawyers at Citigroup identify colleagues who have deeper experience in particular niches of law. For example, a secured lending lawyer might take responsibility for keeping up on derivatives. Lawyers “major” in whatever they handle routinely, and “minor” in their assigned specialized subject (See my post of Dec. 21, 2005: majors and minors at Ascential Software; Dec. 17, 2006: majors and minors for in-house counsel at RadioOne; Nov. 20, 2006: FMC lawyers have areas of recognized expertise; Nov. 16, 2005: assign lawyers specific areas of expertise.).
Another term that some people use for this concept is “subject matter expert” (SME) – pronounced SMEE (See my post of March 17, 2006: subject matter experts.). A SME is the person with the most expertise in a specialized legal field (See my post of Nov. 16, 2005: assignment lists for lawyers and clients; March 17, 2006: bones to pick with SME’s.).