HERBERT Smith, Norton Rose and Macfarlanes are the legal players in the battle for the Mirror Group - owner of The Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People and Live TV- which is nearing its climax.
Herbert Smith and Norton Rose are acting for Trinity - the publicly quoted regional newspaper business - in its proposed takeover.
Trinity's initial bid was rejected last week.
Keith Hyman, head of Norton Rose's media and communications group, refused to comment.
However, a Trinity spokesman confirms Norton Rose is advising on corporate aspects, while Herbert Smith is providing competition advice.
Trinity made a referral last week to the Monopolies & Mergers Commission. These are mandatory because of the politically sensitive nature of newspaper publishing. Brussels-based Herbert Smith lawyer Craig Pouncey tells The Lawyer: "The law requires newspapers to make mandatory referrals if their circulation is above 500,000."
This could impose a "considerable timing disadvantage".
The Mirror Group was last week rumoured to be courting a new suitor, Regional Independent Media (RIM) - publisher of the Yorkshire Post. Macfarlanes is RIM's legal adviser.
Advisers to Mirror Group, Lovell White Durrant, including Mirror Group director of legal, Charles Collier-Wright and senior lawyer Paul Vickers, were unable to comment.
Herbert Smith is also acting for Newsquest, which is in preliminary merger talks with Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers.