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Although Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has been in Moscow since 1992, its office in the Russian capital is still rather modest. Around 30 attorneys handle a typical Skadden diet of high-end corporate finance work. But reinforcements are available on short notice. The firm has Russian visas for every one of its 115 lawyers in London, to avoid the usual overnight delay in visa processing whenever extra English- and U.S.-qualified lawyers are needed on the ground in Russia.

The demand for extra lawyers is high. Typically, at any one time about 35 of Skadden’s London lawyers are involved in Russian work and making good use of their visas. Since the 1998 financial crisis, when most foreign firms scaled back — Skadden had little more than a nameplate in Moscow for more than a year — the Russian legal market has been transformed by Russia’s booming economy. Vladimir Putin has brought political stability and, although due to step down as president, looks set to continue to play a prominent role in government. Meanwhile, high oil prices mean that Russia is awash in petro-dollars. Between 2002 and 2006, GDP almost trebled from $345 billion to $984 billion.

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