While junior associates at law firms have been absorbing most of their employers' economic angst, some practices are shepherding their young-but-surplus talent into socially meaningful work, sometimes on a full-time pro bono basis. Public-interest work fellowships help underwrite their salaries, which often stand at less than 50% of normal starting levels in the current recession. Firms are using these and other strategies to retain talented newcomers as they wait for better times.

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