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QUESTION: I’m a first-year lawyer at a major firm. Despite three years of professional training, I find myself assigned to “scut” work (copying documents, filing things, and many late nights of hanging around waiting to be told what to do). I’m not learning anything useful; and, worse yet, every time there’s a crisis, I’m expected to shelve all my personal plans and work around the clock. Should I look for another job? ANSWER: Your situation isn’t at all unusual for many first-year lawyers in larger law firms. Although law school gives you basic skills (research, writing and how to “think like a lawyer”), in most instances it does not provide much in the way of practical skills training. As a result, many junior lawyers come to law firms without the ability to perform higher-level tasks. The “scut” work you describe is what you may be consigned to do, unless you take steps to improve your position. Here are a few simple suggestions:

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