Realistic Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Transfer in Legal Topic Classification

We consider zero-shot cross-lingual transfer in legal topic classification using the recent MultiEURLEX dataset. Since the original dataset contains parallel documents, which is unrealistic for zero-shot cross-lingual transfer, we develop a new version of the dataset without parallel documents. We use it to show that translation-based methods vastly outperform cross-lingual fine-tuning of multilingually pre-trained models, the best previous zero-shot transfer method for MultiEURLEX. We also develop a bilingual teacher-student zero-shot transfer approach, which exploits additional unlabeled documents of the target language and performs better than a model fine-tuned directly on labeled target language documents.

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