Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's mergers and acquisitions lawyers in Washington boast an edge over their colleagues in other cities: access to the deep well of regulatory expertise in the firm's D.C. office.

"In energy, communications, health care — any industry where there is greater regulatory scrutiny — I think we have a competitive advantage being inside the Beltway and having face-to-face access to some of the best regulatory lawyers," said partner Pankaj Sinha, who leads the mergers and acquisitions practice in Washington.

Regulatory issues, partner Jeremy London said, "shape a lot of the core M&A components of the transactions: When and how long am I going to go out for shareholder approval? What are covenants and agreements that bind the other side? Overall deal dynamics and sensitivities."

But Sinha is quick to point out that the firm's Washington transactions lawyers have an international practice that goes far beyond the regulatory arena. London has been part of the team representing Sprint Nextel Corp. in its $20.1 billion sale to Japanese company SoftBank Corp., as well as fending off DISH Network Corp.'s efforts to intervene. London called it a "once in a lifetime" deal to work on, given the complexity of the transactions involved and DISH's presence as an "interloper."

Washington-based partners were part of the team representing Human Genome Sciences Inc. in its $3.6 billion sale last year to Glaxo­SmithKline PLC. Glaxo started out with a hostile bid, but the firm helped negotiate a friendly deal that Sinha said involved "a much higher price."

In another complex deal, the firm steered the sale of Entergy Corp.'s electric transmission business to ITC Holdings Corp. Sinha said the deal was "unique and cutting-edge," involving spinning off Entergy's electric transmission business into a separate company that was then merged with ITC Holdings.

The merger, Sinha said, was "a good example of how we can be innovative with a type of transaction that's never been attempted before."