As I made the rounds telling people at my firm that I was leaving, a number of the partners told me to get in touch if/when I wanted to come back. This surprised me. I have assumed that this decision I've made is pretty irreversible; that once I leave my large law firm, I won't be able to come back. Large law firms tend to focus pretty exclusively on the fresh blood coming out of law school each year. There is some lateral hiring, but it's a small percentage of the overall hiring and it is not the subject of the massive and elaborate recruiting machine aimed at the newborn lawyers. The lateral associates who do get hired come from other firms. They are definitely not people who have been out of the large law firm scene for a few years raising kids or whatnot.
So I'm wondering what they meant. I don't take it as something people say just to be nice without meaning it at all, because partners don't say things to associates just to be nice. Especially not to associates who are jumping ship. But I do think there's an expiration date on the offer. I think it something along the lines of, "If you realize in the next 6 months that you've made a huge mistake, come on back." Maybe it could even stretch to a year or two. But there is definitely an expiration date.
Much as I enjoyed my job at times, and although there are certainly things that I will miss, I do not think there is any likelihood that I will be taking them up on the offer.
Yesterday when I was packing up my books at my parents' house--having never gotten around to moving my books out of my old room there all these years--I felt like I was putting pieces of myself back together with every book I put in a box. All those wonderful books I had almost forgotten existed. What was I doing in a job that cut me off from something I love so much? It's madness. I don't regret it, for various reasons, but I also don't think I will regret the decision to walk away from it.