Well I've run into this article on a few of these legal "blawgs" about all these lawyers who are quitting these firms three, four, five years in. Right after their fat bonus checks are deposited.
In fact the situation is so bad that these firms are finding they don't have anyone around anymore to do the deals, they all quit. There's old guys and partners and then there's the newer calls, and no one in between at these places. They're mainly leaving for any jobs they can find that can get them out of these sweatshops. That one guy they talked to who was heading west is trying to get into screenwriting, actually.
I think what you're seeing is that life is so bad and so unbearable at these law firms in places like New York that people simply can't stand it. These billables are through the roof, but also you have so many people who are knocked right out of the running for partnership very early. So it's clear to most of these lawyers at these big firms that they have no future, so why bother continuing? Especially when you have to work all the time, and spend the night at these offices.
I dunno if the same situation is true in Canada. Lots of people went to law school not out of any great love for the law or any of that, but because they wanted a stable professional job and this was their best shot! Most of them weren't gung-ho about corporate law to begin with. They simply hoped this degree would allow them to do something interesting with their lives like conduct exciting trials and get justice for people, or negotiate deals for big athletes and entertainers, or get into politics and write policy and do cool things like that. Maybe even become Prime Minister! Fat chance.
That's why people are getting out of these firms. It's dead-end chimp work and the hours are terrible and the people you work with are horrible, and clients generally all hate you and say you are ripping them off. And these lawyers hate it.