Like any other corporate setting, law firms are rife with political maneuvering. As a junior associate, the best way you can navigate these treacherous political waters is by being sure to ask partners about the most delicate high level subjects at every opportunity. That way you can know what's up and how best to chart your course at the firm. The partners in turn will appreciate your active interest in the firm's management and flag you to their peers as one to watch. Note as well that, since this can sometimes be a difficult conversation for a young lawyer to initiate, it's often better to have a couple of drinks beforehand to loosen up.