Magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has been ranked one of the top global law firms to advise on mergers and acquisitions in a year that saw M&A value hit a post-financial crisis high.

The London-headquartered firm came fourth in Mergermarket’s league table of legal advisers for deal value, jumping five places from 2013. It worked on 245 deals with a total value of £287m.

Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May also made the top 20. US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom took the top spot with its 248 deals totalling £392m in value.

Deals in 2014 took longer to complete - on average 96 days, possibly due to competing bids, deal complexity and size - but the year ended with £2.13bn-worth of global M&A, compared with 2013’s total of £1.47bn, and down just 11.8% from the last highest annual total in 2007 of £2.42bn.

Freshfields led the European league table by deal value (£234m), though ranked behind DLA Piper, Linklaters, Clifford Chance and CMS Cameron McKenna in terms of deal count.

European M&A deals were worth £595bn in 2014, compared with £423bn in 2013.

Most of the inbound investment came from US-based companies, which accounted for nearly two-thirds (60.7%) of inbound deals, while 71% of outbound activity was directed towards the US.