Plain English Summarization of Contracts

Laura Manor, Junyi Jessy Li


Abstract
Unilateral legal contracts, such as terms of service, play a substantial role in modern digital life. However, few read these documents before accepting the terms within, as they are too long and the language too complicated. We propose the task of summarizing such legal documents in plain English, which would enable users to have a better understanding of the terms they are accepting. We propose an initial dataset of legal text snippets paired with summaries written in plain English. We verify the quality of these summaries manually, and show that they involve heavy abstraction, compression, and simplification. Initial experiments show that unsupervised extractive summarization methods do not perform well on this task due to the level of abstraction and style differences. We conclude with a call for resource and technique development for simplification and style transfer for legal language.
Anthology ID:
W19-2201
Volume:
Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2019
Month:
June
Year:
2019
Address:
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Venues:
NAACL | WS
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
1–11
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/W19-2201
DOI:
10.18653/v1/W19-2201
Bibkey:
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/W19-2201.pdf
Supplementary:
 W19-2201.Supplementary.pdf