“The observation that unit costs tend to decline at a uniform rate with experience is ubiquitous in the organizational and economic literatures.” What the Acad. Mgt. Rev., Dec. 2005 at 1159, is refers to is called in the management literature as “organizational learning curves.” The concept certainly holds true in law departments. The more you see of a certain kind of legal issues, the faster you can resolve them. The larger the law department, the more issues of a similar kind present themselves and therefore supposedly the steadier the improvements in productivity and effectiveness.
This concept seems to be different than specialization, It suggests that the Horndahl effect comes from process improvements, not just refined knowledge about an area of law (specialization). A specialist focuses narrowly and may well see more instances of any particular issue than a generalist, but may also spend much time on relatively unusual occurrences. Someone handling relatively routine problems day in and day builds a different understanding and effectiveness than would a highly-trained specialist with a variety of arcane matters. Breadth and depth of unusual knowledge has a different learning effect than knowledge from repetition and volume. It is the difference between five years of experience and one year of experience repeated five times.