SJ Berwin has pulled in its biggest deal for years with an instruction from pub company Laurel on the fight for Scottish & Newcastle's (S&N) pubs. The win came courtesy of a conflict at Freshfields Bruck-haus Deringer, which muscled in on longstanding Linklaters client S&N earlier this year. It is understood that SJ Berwin won the work following a beauty parade, which also involved Ashurst Morris Crisp, Eversheds, Lovells and Simmons & Simmons. Partner Steve Davies is leading the team advising Laurel. Although he has not advised the client before, Davies has worked with the pub company's majority shareholder Morgan Grenfell. The win is a major coup for SJ Berwin, which has been hard hit by the dearth of corporate work. Profits dropped by around 20 per cent this year - the third year running that it has been hit by profit depletion. The pubs sector has been extremely active this year in the wake of a widespread trend to demerge brewing and retail interests. The consequence has been a merry-go-round of client wins and losses at City firms. Linklaters acted for Six Continents (6C) on its demerger, so S&N turned to Freshfields for advice on a potential bid for 6C. Fresh-fields was used for the S&N pubs auction and so could not act for Laurel, its first major client in the pubs sector.