Dickinson Dees remains Newcastle's corporate firm par excellence, due to its range of high-quality practitioners and breadth of practice.
As one client puts it: "They can deal with whatever you throw at them, whereas rival practices may have to refer work elsewhere".
The firm's leading experts include M&A specialists John Flynn, Jamie Pass and the 'outstanding' Nigel Williams, as well as department head Nigel Bellis; private equity specialist Chris Harker; and Jonathan Hewitt, who specialises in listings work.
A highlight of its 120 transactions was advising Grainger Trust plc on its £477m joint bid for BPT Plc with Deutsche Bank.
On the commercial side, new clients include Uniqema, Synextix and Huntsman.
With six corporate partners and 36 fee-earners in the department, Ward Hadaway is now the closest regional rival to Dickinson Dees.
Noteworthy individuals include department head Colin Hewitt, M&A specialist Robert Thompson, Martin Hulls, who specialises in private equity, and Philip Jordan.
In 2002, the firm hired a number of corporate finance specialists from Ernst & Young.
Headline work includes advising The Sage Group on its £6m sponsorship agreement with the North Music Trust.
The departure of senior partner and high-profile rainmaker Michael Spriggs was a blow to Eversheds LLP's corporate practice, although with Michael Spetch and Andrew Davison the department is in capable hands.
Davison wins client praise as `easily the best corporate lawyer I've come across'. Commercial head Ruth Connorton is also popular with clients.
Spriggs, now managing director of UK Land Estates, remains a major client, and the firm acted for him in a £300m debt and equity funding investment by the Bank of Scotland, and a group reorganisation.
Other clients include Newcastle International Airport and Reg Vardy.
A smaller firm that punches well above its weight, Robert Muckle boasts a number of highly rated individuals.
Robert Phillips heads the department and wins client praise for his quality and speed of service, while managing partner Hugh Welch and senior partner Ian Gilthorpe, who 'gives an extremely personal service', have major profiles in the market.
The firm acted in the MBO of Fathom Technologies, and advised the North Music Trust on a £6m sponsorship arrangement with The Sage Group.
Watson Burton hired another Eversheds' LLP's partner in 2002, with David Hardman following Nicholas Craig, who had moved across town the year before.
Gillian Hall heads the 'exceptional' five-partner team, and wins client praise for her efficiency and her intellectual ability - she 'thinks of the things you'd want to think of if you were clever enough'.
The firm acted for management in the £7.5m MBO of Lionweld Kennedy. Senior partner Andrew Hoyle has a strong reputation.