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With regard to whether it looks bad to renege, yes, but I also think that we're in an increasing atmosphere where firms don't care. You might not ever be able to get a job again (ever) at that particular firm, but you left it for a reason. Then again, if you're a mid-level who has the experience they're seeking, they might even hire you again despite the reneging. I doubt it would have an impact in your career with respect to other firms.
Think about the logistics. You renege on a full-time offer at Firm A. Associate X is absolutely incensed because IDK... they're just weird like that. You go to Firm B. Unless you're particularly awful, you'll probably be at Firm b for 1-3 years. 2 years later, you apply to Firm C. At that point, Associate X may have left the market or biglaw altogether, but let's assume they're still at Firm A. They'd have to 1) somehow hear about your application at a different firm 2) remember some rando reneging 2 years earlier 3) not have cooled down enough or matured enough in the interim to act like an adult 4) have friends at Firm C 5) have so little work to do that they somehow have the free time to fuck with someone else's career 6) reach out to their friend at Firm C and 7) hope that their friend also thinks that it's reasonable to act as they have (most people wouldn't). I have never met a lawyer or recruiter whose personality vaguely suggests that they're that petty and vindictive, and where I work is not exactly known for great personalities. Okay. I have met one lawyer or recruiter with that kind of personality, but my sense was that everyone kind of knew that they were a nasty person and discounted their opinion appropriately.
Some exceptions to the above are if Associate X ends up at Firm C and might even be interviewing you, then yeah, big impact, but that's a lot of bad luck on the draw... Another exception is if a particularly powerful partner intervenes, but come on... partners have better shit to do. Another might be if you're a tiny, tiny market or tightly-knit bar, then yeah, probably big impact.
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