Pre-trained Language Models for the Legal Domain: A Case Study on Indian Law

13 Sep 2022  ·  Shounak Paul, Arpan Mandal, Pawan Goyal, Saptarshi Ghosh ·

NLP in the legal domain has seen increasing success with the emergence of Transformer-based Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) pre-trained on legal text. PLMs trained over European and US legal text are available publicly; however, legal text from other domains (countries), such as India, have a lot of distinguishing characteristics. With the rapidly increasing volume of Legal NLP applications in various countries, it has become necessary to pre-train such LMs over legal text of other countries as well. In this work, we attempt to investigate pre-training in the Indian legal domain. We re-train (continue pre-training) two popular legal PLMs, LegalBERT and CaseLawBERT, on Indian legal data, as well as train a model from scratch with a vocabulary based on Indian legal text. We apply these PLMs over three benchmark legal NLP tasks -- Legal Statute Identification from facts, Semantic Segmentation of Court Judgment Documents, and Court Appeal Judgment Prediction -- over both Indian and non-Indian (EU, UK) datasets. We observe that our approach not only enhances performance on the new domain (Indian texts) but also over the original domain (European and UK texts). We also conduct explainability experiments for a qualitative comparison of all these different PLMs.

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