Spotlight: Legalite’s rent abatement bot


Each month, we spotlight one of our favourite Josef bots.

This month, we’re sharing Legalite’s Rent Abatement Bot, which provides quick and free legal guidance on the government’s new COVID-19 rent abatement scheme.

Legalite is a market-leading and award-winning NewLaw firm, using fixed fees, technology and a focus on wellbeing to make the lives of their team and clients easier. We sat down with Legalite’s founder and principal lawyer, Marianne Marchesi, and lawyer and ‘Tech Champion,’ Alistair Dunbar, to discuss their latest Josef bot.

What does the Rent Abatement Bot do?

AD: First, it describes the process for getting a rent abatement under the new code that was put in place by the Federal Government, which allows tenants to have their rent waived, reduced or deferred because of the impact of COVID-19. 

We found that a lot of people didn’t even understand that they had rights under this new code. The second thing it does is, for those people who aren’t covered by the code, generate a rent abatement letter which explains why they should get assistance even though the landlord isn’t legally obliged. 

Marianne, Alistair and the Legalite team

Marianne, Alistair and the Legalite team

Why did you build it?

AD: The main reason was that there was a need for it! And it was something that we could automate easily and therefore offer for free to the community. 

MM: It’s also targeted towards the “forgotten market”. The people who are eligible for the scheme are totally covered. But there’s this whole other market that hasn’t been considered.

You launched the bot last week. What do you hope the impact will be?

MM: It’s about making the law more accessible. It’s free. We’re not making a direct profit. Of course there are benefits to us – brand awareness, for example. But that’s not the primary driver. We always come back to our values when we make business decisions. One of those values is relationships and community. We can’t go out and fundraise or volunteer now due to COVID-19. Instead, we can do this!

One of [our] values is relationships and community. We can’t go out and fundraise or volunteer now due to COVID-19. Instead, we can do this!

One of [our] values is relationships and community. We can’t go out and fundraise or volunteer now due to COVID-19. Instead, we can do this!

What is your advice to people starting to build a bot?

AD: Keep trying. Keep experimenting. It might feel difficult at first, but before too long it becomes very intuitive, particularly because of Josef’s user experience. I would also suggest that you treat it as a fun experience. When I build a bot it’s fun and playful. 

MM: And when you test Alistair’s bots you can feel that playfulness. It feels like you’re talking to a person, which is such an important part of the end user experience. 

Also, before you start building a bot, get clear on the purpose of the bot. That will keep you going.

AD: Before you start, you should also draw it out. A big whiteboard is best. Or big bits of butchers’ paper and permanent markers.

The bot was built in response to COVID-19. Do you think coronavirus will change the way firms work? How do you see it going forward?

MM: It will definitely change the way law firms work. Pre-COVID-19, a lot of firms were very hesitant to embrace technology, paperless practices, working from home. Now we have all been thrown into it and are being forced to adapt. I think firms will continue to take up tech to move forward. Previously, they’ve had a long term plan to implement something. Now we’re all agile.

Marianne and Alistair winning NAB Law Firm of the Year!

Marianne and Alistair winning NAB Law Firm of the Year!

Josef and Legalite have worked together for a long time now. What is Josef to you?

MM: Josef is a partner. An investment. We were talking about cutting unnecessary costs when COVID-19 hit, and we didn’t even consider cutting Josef because it’s part of our business. If you put time into it, you get back. It’s our connection to community. It’s brand awareness. It’s not just the bottom line.

If you’re interested in using Josef to respond to – and drive – change, book a demo. And, if you want to use Legalite’s bot to learn more about the government’s rent abatement regime, click here.