That's because some EE engineering jobs start in the 80-90k, and patent examiners (a majority of which are EE's), start out making over $100k when you factor in the generous pension and using overtime to bring you up to the normal minimum required prosecution hours, way more time off, and telework. Same with APJ's. In-house hiring picked up too. The only time firms were a clearly good choice was back before the economy blew apart.
Additionally, EE attorneys at firms with 3+ years of experience have long been desirable, they don't need to be trained, but they aren't really expensive yet, most firms didn't drop them even when the economy was at its worst, they mostly dropped new hires and partners who weren't working out, 3-8 years exp has always been the sweet spot, a very narrow sweet spot at that.