We aim to highlight an interesting trend to contribute to the ongoing debate around advances within legal Natural Language Processing. Recently, the focus for most legal text classification tasks has shifted towards large pre-trained deep learning models such as BERT. In this paper, we show that a more traditional approach based on Support Vector Machine classifiers reaches competitive performance with deep learning models. We also highlight that error reduction obtained by using specialised BERT-based models over baselines is noticeably smaller in the legal domain when compared to general language tasks. We discuss some hypotheses for these results to support future discussions.
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