Yea, that makes sense. I do feel a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place - I don't want to tell her too early and lose learning opportunities or get forgotten about, but I also don't want to lie to her about my intentions to stay if she starts discussing hirebacks. I am certain I will not stay at the firm, but it's due to personal reasons and not because of the firm itself. I want to communicate that as respectfully as possible and hopefully not burn any bridges. To me it, seems worse to lead them along until they make me an offer (or not).
For a variety of reasons, I know I don't want to stay at my firm after articles. I think hire-back offers are made in March, but presumably the firm is already considering the matter now. I have a mid-articles check-in with my principal soon, and I wonder if I should tell her at that point, or if I should just receive the feedback and nod along when speaking of hirebacks, and then schedule a meeting in February to express my intentions. Any tips for how to have the conversation would be appreciated too.