Freshfields has ousted Linklaters from the top of the Corporate Money deal table for 1997.
The table counts private deals as well as public mergers and acquisitions above the value of £1m involving UK companies.
As such it covers more deals than the Acquisitions Monthly table published in The Lawyer two weeks ago.
Freshfields' placing partly reflects its role in October advising on the Zurich/BAT merger, the Lafarge bid for Redland, and the Reed Elsevier/Wolters Kluwer merger.
The firm also advised ICI on its £4.8bn acquisition of Unilever's speciality chemicals business.
As in the Acquisitions Monthly table, all four firms advising on the £9.8bn Guinness-Grand Metropolitan merger SJ Berwin & Co, Norton Rose, Slaughter and May and Theodore Goddard also shot up the table.
Theodore Goddard moved from 47th position to 12th.
Reflecting the growing interest of US companies in investing in the UK and vice versa, US firm Cravath Swaine & Moore also reached the top 10 for the first time, moving up from number 16 last year.