The February issue of Mergers & Acquisitions provides a detailed look back at the year that was, with the advantage of a full year's worth of data on completed deals. In the case of 2014, it's a year well worth examining. The middle market delivered a total deal value of $315.3 billion, the highest since 2007, according to Thomson Reuters. Deal volume performed solidly, if not spectacularly, with 2,303 transactions closing -- 125 more than the previous year but not quite as many as other recent years.

The issue features in-depth charts that put the year in perspective and offer 5-year and 10-year views of dealmaking, as well as league tables highlighting the most active investment banks and law firms in the middle market, based on the number of deals they advised on and the total deal value of transactions they worked on. Art director Nikhil Mali, research editor Toby Walters and I revamped the charts a year ago and have been tweaking them ever since.

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