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Ann Israel is the legal profession’s Dear Abby. A New York legal recruiter since 1979, Ann is a past president of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants. Advice for the Lawlorn is updated every week.

Q: After successfully weathering the economic storm of the past two years — including landing a full-time offer following my summer associate experience at BigLaw in the summer of 2008, keeping my GPA high enough during my 3L to keep my offer and then finding a back-up job during my deferral year — I am now faced with the wonderful yet difficult decision of leaving BigLaw entirely.

My firm gave us deferred associates a stipend and explained we could do whatever we wanted for the year. I landed a very prestigious temporary in-house gig and the company and I quickly clicked. Although my in-house job was supposed to be for my deferral year only, I recently received an offer to stay full time. The salary is comparable and the lifestyle is predictably much better. I have my weekends and evenings, and I’m learning tons from the general counsel who is as much as mentor as one could ask for. My only reservation is leaving behind a path I worked so hard to create, and whether moving in-house as a first year out of law school will close many doors that working for BigLaw would presumably open.

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