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A year ago, Baker & McKenzie boasted the largest foreign law office in the Kazakhstan capital of Almaty, with 38 lawyers. Now fewer than half those lawyers remain, and Michael Arruda, the local managing partner, is packing his bags for Baker’s San Francisco office following the exit last July of key rainmaker Michael Wilson. While Baker is shrinking, other firms are faring better. LeBoeuf’s Almaty office has added four lawyers, while Wilson says the region is “bristling with opportunities”. He has now founded his own firm in Almaty, Michael Wilson & Partners, which comprises some old buddies from Baker. Baker chair John Klotsche downplays the loss of partners, insisting that lawyers are still keeping busy with oil and gas projects in the region.

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