Three law firms are testing apprenticeship programs that see new hires assigned to shadow senior lawyers and handle real cases, rather than simply relegated to handling document-review work. The training programs are designed to give young lawyers a stronger foundation for their career, and to placate clients who balk at paying for billable work done by new associates. "The clients understand that we are trying to improve the legal profession, and the partners have been happy with it," says one law-firm official.

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