Immigration Document Classification and Automated Response Generation

ABSTRACT: “In this paper, we consider the problem of organizing supporting documents vital to U.S. work visa petitions, as well as responding to Requests For Evidence (RFE) issued by the U.S.~Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Typically, both processes require a significant amount of repetitive manual effort. To reduce the burden of mechanical work, we apply machine learning methods to automate these processes, with humans in the loop to review and edit output for submission. In particular, we use an ensemble of image and text classifiers to categorize supporting documents. We also use a text classifier to automatically identify the types of evidence being requested in an RFE, and used the identified types in conjunction with response templates and extracted fields to assemble draft responses. Empirical results suggest that our approach achieves considerable accuracy while significantly reducing processing time.” Access Via arXiv — To Appear in ICDM 2020 workshop: MLLD-2020

LEGAL-BERT: The Muppets Straight Out of Law School

ABSTRACT: “BERT has achieved impressive performance in several NLP tasks. However, there has been limited investigation on its adaptation guidelines in specialised domains. Here we focus on the legal domain, where we explore several approaches for applying BERT models to downstream legal tasks, evaluating on multiple datasets. Our findings indicate that the previous guidelines for pre-training and fine-tuning, often blindly followed, do not always generalize well in the legal domain. Thus we propose a systematic investigation of the available strategies when applying BERT in specialised domains. These are: (a) use the original BERT out of the box, (b) adapt BERT by additional pre-training on domain-specific corpora, and (c) pre-train BERT from scratch on domain-specific corpora. We also propose a broader hyper-parameter search space when fine-tuning for downstream tasks and we release LEGAL-BERT, a family of BERT models intended to assist legal NLP research, computational law, and legal technology applications.”

Congrats to all of the authors on their acceptance in the Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing Conference in November.

In the legal scientific community, we are witnessing increasing efforts to connect general purpose NLP Advances to domain specific applications within law. First, we saw Word Embeddings (i.e. word2Vec, etc.) now Transformers (i.e BERT, etc.). (And dont forget about GPT-3, etc.) Indeed, the development of LexNLP is centered around the idea that in order to have better performing Legal AI – we will need to connect broader NLP developments to the domain specific needs within law. Stay tuned!

Rethinking Attention with Performers (Important New Paper on arXiv)

Transformers (such as BERT, etc.) have suffered quadratic complexity in the number of tokens in the input sequence … which makes training incredibly laborious / expensive… so this is an important paper by researchers from Google, Cambridge and DeepMind …

ABSTRACT: “We introduce Performers, Transformer architectures which can estimate regular (softmax) full-rank-attention Transformers with provable accuracy, but using only linear (as opposed to quadratic) space and time complexity, without relying on any priors such as sparsity or low-rankness. To approximate softmax attention-kernels, Performers use a novel Fast Attention Via positive Orthogonal Random features approach (FAVOR+), which may be of independent interest for scalable kernel methods. FAVOR+ can be also used to efficiently model kernelizable attention mechanisms beyond softmax. This representational power is crucial to accurately compare softmax with other kernels for the first time on large-scale tasks, beyond the reach of regular Transformers, and investigate optimal attention-kernels. Performers are linear architectures fully compatible with regular Transformers and with strong theoretical guarantees: unbiased or nearly-unbiased estimation of the attention matrix, uniform convergence and low estimation variance. We tested Performers on a rich set of tasks stretching from pixel-prediction through text models to protein sequence modeling. We demonstrate competitive results with other examined efficient sparse and dense attention methods, showcasing effectiveness of the novel attention-learning paradigm leveraged by Performers.” ACCESS THE PAPER from arXiv.

Predicting United States Policy Outcomes with Random Forests (via arXiv)

Interesting paper which follows on to a number of Machine Learning / NLP driven Legislative Prediction or Government Prediction papers. Access the draft of paper from arXiv

For more examples, see e.g. the follow papers —

Gerrish SM, Blei DM. “Predicting legislative roll calls from text”. ICML, 2011.

Yano T, Smith NA, Wilkerson JD. “Textual Predictors of Bill Survival in Congressional Committees”. Proc 2012 Conf N Amer Chapter Assoc Comp Linguistics, Human Language Technologies, 2012.

Katz DM, Bommarito MJ, Blackman J. “A general approach for predicting the
behavior of the Supreme Court of the United States”. PLOS One, 2017.

Nay, J. “Predicting and Understanding Law Making with Word Vectors and an Ensemble Model.” PLOS One, 2017.

Waltl, Bernhard Ernst. “Semantic Analysis and Computational Modeling of Legal Documents.” PhD diss., Technische Universität München, 2018.

Davoodi, Maryam, Eric Waltenburg, and Dan Goldwasser. “Understanding the Language of Political Agreement and Disagreement in Legislative Texts.” In Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, pp. 5358-5368. 2020.

NumPy Review Paper in Nature

ABSTRACT: “Array programming provides a powerful, compact and expressive syntax for accessing, manipulating and operating on data in vectors, matrices and higher-dimensional arrays. NumPy is the primary array programming library for the Python language. It has an essential role in research analysis pipelines in fields as diverse as physics, chemistry, astronomy, geoscience, biology, psychology, materials science, engineering, finance and economics. For example, in astronomy, NumPy was an important part of the software stack used in the discovery of gravitational waves and in the first imaging of a black hole. Here we review how a few fundamental array concepts lead to a simple and powerful programming paradigm for organizing, exploring and analyzing scientific data. NumPy is the foundation upon which the scientific Python ecosystem is constructed. It is so pervasive that several projects, targeting audiences with specialized needs, have developed their own NumPy-like interfaces and array objects. Owing to its central position in the ecosystem, NumPy increasingly acts as an interoperability layer between such array computation libraries and, together with its application programming interface (API), provides a flexible framework to support the next decade of scientific and industrial analysis.” Access Paper via Nature.

GPT-3 and Another Chat About the End of Lawyers

Today I was Quoted in LegalIT Insider discussing GPT-3 and what it might mean for the future of Legal Tech / Legal AI …  “There a few demos out there which look promising (but lots of things look good in a demo but are not robust in the end). I think the open question is always to what extent we can project any general advance in NLP to the domain specific challenges here in law-law land … On the positive side, I think every major and even minor advances present opportunities for us here in legal.  It took a while but for example you see many of the products in our space taking advantage of Word Embedding [or transformer] methods (Word2Vec, BERT, ELMo, etc.)”

Legal Data Science Research Group at Bucerius Law School

Spent the past few days here in Hamburg working with our multi-institutional scientific research team (Bucerius Law, Max Planck Institute, Chicago Kent Law, Heidelberg Law) … culminating in our presentation to the Bucerius Law Faculty today ! cc: Dirk Hartung Corinna Coupette Janis Beckedorf #legalinnovation #makelawbetter #legaltech #methods #legaldata #science #datascience #networkscience