Mary Flood of the Houston Chronicle [LexBlog Q & A]

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Houston Chronicle law blogsLast week, we wrote about Legal Briefs, the Houston Chronicle’s new blog that launched Thursday to allow greater discussion between Houston’s legal community and the general public.

The project was spearheaded by blogging reporter Mary Flood, our guest for today’s LexBlog Q & A. Mary, who writes the law blog Legal Trade, spoke with us earlier today to offer up her insights on how Legal Briefs got started and what potential impacts it could have. The bulk of our chat is in it’s usual location (after the jump).

1. Rob La Gatta: How did Legal Briefs get started?

Mary Flood: A year ago, when I started Legal Trade, I asked our online people to do this for me. I knew that I would be getting a number of press releases from legal groups or law firms that I wouldn’t be covering, but since the Internet is so vast, I asked if there would be a way for me to post them. And for this whole year, they’ve been telling me that they would get to it. Recently my boss asked as well, and they said, “You know, we forgot about that, let’s see what we can do.” Dwight Silverman, who does our tech blog and is one of our chief technological guys, was able to figure out a way for us to do exactly what I wanted.

2. Rob La Gatta:

Have you thought about the potential benefit of this blog as a tool to reporters, who could identify experts in a given field and use them as potential sources?

Mary Flood: No…all sorts of people on the Internet claim to be experts, and the fact that somebody puts out a press release or pays somebody to put out a press release saying they’re an expert doesn’t make me think that a reporter should necessarily quote them.

3. Rob La Gatta: What about the potential for individual law blogs…do you see this as something that, if enough interest is generated, could eventually lead to different niche blogs on legal issues hosted by the paper?

Mary Flood: No.

4. Rob La Gatta:

What type of responses have you seen from firms so far? Are submissions coming in fairly frequently?

Mary Flood: Yeah…of course, we started [Legal Briefs] the Thursday afternoon right before Easter. So given that, I think we are doing well.

We didn’t get anything on Good Friday, and we didn’t get anything over the weekend. But we aren’t even into our first week, and it looks like we’ve got eight posts. And that’s after, [since] Friday was a down day, about three days. More people have signed up who have not yet put posts, and I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail feedback from lawyers, law firms and people in public relations saying they like the idea.

In fact, Dwight Silverman – who helped me put it up – is thinking of doing the same thing now on his technology blog.

5. Rob La Gatta: By your measure, what would make this project constitute a success?

Mary Flood: It would be successful if it continues as it has been over these three days, with people posting announcements that they want the rest of the Houston legal community to see.

It’s already doing what I wanted it to do, which was to be a place where people in the Houston legal community – be they lawyers or legal assistants, be they at universities or law firms – could post the kind of things that I’ve been getting anyway as a reporter, that go to a bunch of places but often get tossed in the garbage can. Instead, they now have a way to get out to more people in the community. And it offers my blog an opportunity to be a place for people to come and see that.

I covered Enron, and could see the voracious appetite for varying kinds of information, and the ability we had to just expand the amount of information we offer on the Internet. From that experience, when I looked at opening up my own blog about the law business I saw this as something that would be helpful, because it’s just another form of information (and another way to get it from the same group).

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