At a biglaw firm everyone gets paid the same. A corporate lawyer at a top firm gets paid the same as a patent lawyer. Salaries are lockstep which means everyone in the same class gets paid the same amount, if you take a look at salary charts for top firms, it's all based on what year you graduated law school in.
Not true. Many BIGLAW firms start you out at the second year payscale or give a patent bar bonus (or both) if you have passed the patent bar. They are pretty mum about this - I'm at a firm for the second summer and I just heard about this. I'm splitting this summer, so I'm currently at a second firm - yesterday they told me they also offer a raise for those who pass the patent bar. It's going to come to around an extra 10-15K a year, depending on which firm I choose.
To practice patent litigation you need no science background. In many cases a lit team will be made up of a few science bckgrnd attorneys and then regular litigation attorneys.
Depends on the firm. You don't NEED it, but it's not just coincidence that most patent litigators do in fact have the science/engr background. Last summer I clerked in the ED of Texas (after spending the first half in IP firm) so all I did was watch patent litigation. Most of those arguing were not general litigators. Also, most patent litigators handle their own appeals.
Kitty already said it, but just passing the patent bar means you can write patents (patent prosecution). You cannot go to court to litigate them, ie defend someone accused of infringement. [/quote]