Lawtech: Levelling the Playing Field in Legal Services?

25 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2021

See all articles by John Armour

John Armour

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Mari Sako

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: April 21, 2021


The legal services market is commonly thought of as divided into two “hemispheres”-- PeopleLaw and BigLaw. These segments represent, respectively, individuals and corporate clients. The last few decades have seen an increasing concentration of resources within the legal profession toward serving corporate clients, to the alleged detriment of consumer clients. At the same time, the costs of accessing legal representation exceed the financial resources of many ordinary citizens and small businesses, compromising their access to the legal system. We ask: will the adoption of new digital technologies lead to a levelling of the playing field between the PeopleLaw and BigLaw sectors? We consider this in three related dimensions. First, for users of legal services: will technology deliver reductions in cost sufficient to enable affordable access to the legal system for consumer clients whose legal needs are currently unmet? Second, for legal services firms: will the deployment of technology to capture economies of scale mean that firms delivering legal services across the two segments become more similar? And third, for the structure of the legal services market: will the pursuit of economies of scale trigger consolidation that leads both segments toward a more concentrated market structure?

Keywords: legal services, legal tech, lawtech, access to justice

JEL Classification: K40, K41, L84, O33

Suggested Citation

Armour, John and Sako, Mari, Lawtech: Levelling the Playing Field in Legal Services? (April 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

John Armour (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St Cross Building
St Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UL
United Kingdom
+44 1865 281616 (Phone)


European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels


Mari Sako

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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