Off topic posts on the AE-List sometimes come with an honorary AE tip. This one's from Chris Meyer (co-author of top AE books), 16 Aug 2007 :
"Check out Layer > Layer Styles in CS3. These include Photoshop drop shadows, bevels, embosses, etc. which are far deeper than the equivalent AE effects. They render after transforms, which mean they behave more like applying effects to shape and text layers (i.e. shadows stay pointed in the same direction as you rotate a layer -- although they don't scale with it, etc.). Perhaps most intriguing is that they are applied after track mattes are: This means you can apply a matte to a layer, then bevel and shadow it without having to resort to adjustment layers or precomps."
Update: Now there's even an intro movie, Photoshop Layer Styles in AE CS3 by Aharon Rabinowitz.