Your right. It's pretty funny how the whole profession works. There was an interesting article posted recently discussing how some firms are rethinking how they recruit strictly based on Grades/Rank. I belive it was because their retention rate was horrible.
You take someone ranked in the Top 10% that never has worked a day in their life and after a couple of years billing 2000 hours they head for ze hills.
Well the whole profession has problems with over work. Some of the larger firms have decided to switch how they operate with billable hours and recruiting. They discovered, to no ones shock, that they are actually more productive and make more money if attorneys have flexibility in schedule and the billable hours are reduced from 2K down to 1700. The ABA has done a lot of research in this area, so have many academics. When I was researching this past year, I found out that, on average, it costs in time and resources a major law firm between 500K to 1 million to train an associate. It usually takes about 3 years before a major firms believes an associate is sufficiently trained, however, that associate will more than likely leave due to the hours and work load. So many firms are changing strategies by reducing hours and allowing flexibility, and they discover that people are staying and are more loyal and willing to work.
But this is still an exception, and not a rule. Most lawyers work between 40 and 50 hours a week, only a minority work longer than 50 hours a week. (Despite what some people on this board will have you believe)