Helen Boutrous is associate professor and chair of the history and political science department. She founded the Mount’s award-winning Mock Trial and Moot Court teams. One of her proudest accomplishments is the alumni network she’s created that offers support and encouragement to current pre-law students.
Where have you found your passion at Mount Saint Mary’s?
My true passion is the pre-law program. I founded the Mock Trial team 15 years ago and the Moot Court team 11 years ago, and students have been competing in those ever since. Mock Trial is a simulation of trials; you will have witnesses with an attorney just as if they are arguing to a jury with a judge presiding. Moot Court is a simulation of appellate argument, so students are arguing to a panel of judges. It’s a lot of pressure, and students need a thorough understanding of case law to be effective. Confidence is everything. It’s such a valuable experience because I can really tell them it’s about the process: you fall down and you get back up.
What’s a key teaching moment for you?
Particularly in moot and legal reasoning, if students understand that they can make an argument and make it soundly with support of the law, even if that might not have been their position coming in, if they put the best argument forward on both sides of the case, I know they can make it in law school.
What was your dream when you started teaching at the Mount?
My dream was to build a network of power among my students and it has absolutely come true. Students graduate from law school, become practicing lawyers, and then come back and help coach the mock trial team. They can reach out to each other. They know they can reach out to alums for mentoring as they apply to law school.
What do you say when people question why you are creating more attorneys?
It’s true. Attorneys don’t always enjoy the warmest regard from the public, but for years I have been saying, I’m not just creating attorneys; I’m creating Mount Saint Mary’s attorneys with the empathy, the ethics, the respect for the law and for people that you want to see in an attorney. More and more we are seeing the importance of hanging on to one’s ethics and morality in one’s profession. When the legal profession involves the liberty of others and improving peoples’ lives, it’s very good that the world will be populated with MSMU attorneys.