2022-05389 - PhD Position F/M 3-year PhD position in Automatic Argumentation Mining in French Legal Decisions

Contract type : Fixed-term contract

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : PhD Position

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research Centre was founded in 2008 and employs a staff of 360, including 300 scientists working in sixteen research teams. Recognised for its outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development of the Hauts-De-France région, the Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research Centre undertakes research in the field of computer science in collaboration with a range of academic, institutional and industrial partners.

 The strategy of the Centre is to develop an internationally renowned centre of excellence with a significant impact on the City of Lille and its surrounding area. It works to achieve this by pursuing a range of ambitious research projects in such fields of computer science as the intelligence of data and adaptive software systems. Building on the synergies between research and industry, Inria is a major contributor to skills and technology transfer in the field of computer science.


We invite applications for a 3-year PhD position co-funded by Inria, the French national research institute in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, and LexisNexis France, leader of legal information in France and subsidiary of the RELX Group.

The position is affiliated with the MAGNET, a research group at Inria, Lille, which has expertise in Machine Learning and Natural
Language Processing, in particular Discourse Processing. The PhD student will also work in close collaboration with the R&D team at
LexisNexis France, who will provide their expertise in the legal domain and the data they have collected.


The overall objective of this project is to develop an automated system for detecting argumentation structures in French legal
decisions, using recent machine learning-based approaches (i.e. deep learning approaches). In the general case, these structures take the form of a directed labeled graph, whose nodes are the elements of the text (propositions or groups of propositions, not necessarily
contiguous) which serve as components of the argument, and edges are relations that signal the argumentative connections between them (e.g., support, offensive). By revealing the argumentation structure behind legal decisions, such a system will provide a crucial milestone towards their detailed understanding, their use by legal professionals, and above all contributes to greater transparency of

Main activities

The main challenges of this project start with the creation and release of a large-scale dataset of French legal decisions annotated with argumentation structures. To minimize the manual annotation effort, we will resort to semi-supervised and transfer learning techniques to leverage existing argument mining corpora, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) corpus, as well as annotations already started by LexisNexis. Another promising research direction, which is likely to improve over state-of-the-art approaches, is to better model the dependencies between the different sub-tasks (argument span detection, argument typing, etc.) instead of learning these tasks independently. A third research avenue is to find innovative ways to inject the domain knowledge (in particular the rich legal ontology developed by LexisNexis) to enrich the representations used in these models. Finally, we would like to take advantage of other discourse structures, such as coreference and rhetorical relations, conceived as auxiliary tasks in a multi-tasking architecture.


The successful candidate holds a Master's degree in computational linguistics, natural language processing, machine learning, ideally with prior experience in legal document processing and discourse processing.

Furthermore, the candidate will provide strong programming skills, expertise in machine learning approaches and is eager to work at the interplay between academia and industry.

Benefits package

  • Subsidized meals
  • Partial reimbursement of public transport costs
  • Leave: 7 weeks of annual leave + 10 extra days off due to RTT (statutory reduction in working hours) + possibility of exceptional leave (sick children, moving home, etc.)
  • Possibility of teleworking and flexible organization of working hours
  • Professional equipment available (videoconferencing, loan of computer equipment, etc.)
  • Social, cultural and sports events and activities
  • Access to vocational training
  • Social security coverage


1st and 2nd year : 2051 € Gross monthly salary (before taxes) 

3rd year : 2158 € gross monthly salary (before taxes)