The problem of answering multiple choice questions, based on the content of documents has been studied extensively in the machine learning literature. We pose the due diligence problem, where lawyers study legal contracts and assess the risk in potential mergers and acquisitions, as a multiple choice question answering problem, based on the text of the contract. Existing frameworks for question answering are not suitable for this task, due to the inherent scarcity and imbalance in the legal contract data available for training. We propose a question answering system which first identifies the excerpt in the contract which potentially contains the answer to a given question, and then builds a multi-class classifier to choose the answer to the question, based on the content of this excerpt. Unlike existing question answering systems, the proposed system explicitly handles the imbalance in the data, by generating synthetic instances of the minority answer categories, using the Synthetic Minority Oversampling Technique. This ensures that the number of instances in all the classes are roughly equal to each other, thus leading to more accurate and reliable classification. We demonstrate that the proposed question answering system outperforms the existing systems with minimal amount of training data.Read the Paper
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In the TREC Total Recall Track (2015-2016), participating teams could employ either fully automatic or human-assisted (“semi-automatic”) methods to select documents for relevance assessment by a simulated human reviewer. According to the TREC 2016 evaluation, the fully automatic baseline method achieved a recall-precision breakeven (“R-precision”) score of 0.71, while the two semi-automatic efforts achieved scores of 0.67 and 0.51. In this work, we investigate the extent to which the observed effectiveness of the different methods may be confounded by chance, by inconsistent adherence to the Track guidelines, by selection bias in the evaluation method, or by discordant relevance assessments.
A Dataset and an Examination of Identifying Passages for Due Diligence
We present and formalize the due diligence problem, where lawyers extract data from legal documents to assess risk in a potential merger or acquisition, as an information retrieval task. Furthermore, we describe the creation and annotation of a document collection for the due diligence problem that will foster research in this area. This dataset comprises 50 topics over 4,412 documents and ~15 million sentences and is a subset of our own internal training data.