Mount Made: Attorney with Swag
How One Alum is Changing the Educational Legal Entertainment Game
Eugene Toussaint ’10 has swag—Attorneys with Swag, that is.
As a lawyer, Eugene’s goal is to not only advocate for his clients, but to also educate and empower the general public on an understanding of the law.
But before diving into his work with Attorneys with Swag, Eugene got his start as a staff attorney in criminal defense practice with The Legal Aid Society, one of the largest and most influential social justice law firms in New York City. The mission of The Legal Aid Society is built upon one simple, but powerful belief: that no New Yorker should be denied the right to equal justice.
A Bronx native, Eugene paid witness to injustices in his own community—and that’s one of the driving forces behind his desire to launch his career as a public defender.
Litigators for The Legal Aid Society protect and defend the rights of everyday New Yorkers who need legal support, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how they identify. Their mission is aligned with another that Eugene became quite familiar with as a young adult: the mission of the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
In the spirit of Vincent de Paul and Elizabeth Ann Seton, members of the Mount community aim to foster an understanding of their common humanity, a commitment to human dignity, and a full appreciation of their obligations to each other. Joining The Legal Aid Society is something that just felt right to Eugene—his work would be grounded in the beliefs he developed as a student at the College.
Working in public defense means no two days are ever the same. The fast-paced nature of the courthouse makes his job exciting, and the daily unknown is something that keeps Eugene on his toes.
“There have been many changes in my day-to-day work because of COVID-19, but, as a public defender, a typical day involves making appearances in court, meeting with clients, preparing cases, and processing arraignments.”
Eugene’s always aspired to become a lawyer, and he’s proud to be living out that dream every day. But if it weren’t for the support he received from various teachers, mentors, and advisors along the way—especially at the Mount—he would never have imagined graduating from St. John’s University School of Law in 2014.
Getting to walk across the commencement stage at St. John’s took many years of hard work and dedication, including his start at Monsignor Scanlan High School, where he played on the volleyball team. When it came time to apply to colleges and universities, Eugene knew he wanted to continue his volleyball career, but without the pressures of becoming an athlete at a Division I institution. After submitting his application to the Mount, the rest is history—Eugene was accepted, joined the volleyball team, moved into the residence halls, and began his Mount Made journey to a career in law.
“I always knew I wanted to be an attorney—even as a child,” chuckled Eugene. “I loved arguing. I loved debating. I loved talking! Pursuing a career as a lawyer seemed like a perfect fit for me, and I worked hard in both high school and college to get myself to where I am today.”
Eugene was also admitted into the College’s prestigious Honors Program—where high-achieving and motivated students are challenged to do their best work while they cross intellectual and disciplinary boundaries and pursue any major at the College. Honors students have the opportunity to have several courses in the core curriculum waived or supplemented with interdisciplinary seminar courses—providing Eugene with the opportunity to have room in his busy schedule for not only one, but two majors. He began his studies in history and, after speaking with his advisor, decided to further pursue his interest in psychology with a second major.
A first-generation College student, Eugene’s Mount experience was further nurtured by his participation in the TRiO Program—a federally-funded program that enhances the academic performance, retention, and graduation rates of its scholars through comprehensive support services provided to selected low-income, first-generation, and/or students with disabilities.
“Since I was the first person in my family to go to college, my mentors and advisors in the TRiO Program helped guide me and encourage me as I studied at the Mount and began seriously considering a career in law,” said Eugene.
And Eugene also tips his hat to several of his professors on campus—especially Associate Professor of History David Gallo and Associate Professor of Psychology Daniel Hrubes—who not only made his time in the classroom engaging and innovative, but provided him with direction and compassion.
Eugene’s experience at the Mount expanded far beyond the classroom, where he was involved in several clubs and activities on campus. He was a dedicated member of the Student Government Association (SGA) and also started his own club.
Gathering his roommates, Anthony Williams and Louis Velez, Eugene created a club called S.W.A.G., or Students with a Goal. The mission of the club was to raise school spirit—or ’Phin Pride—while bolstering attendance at student activities and spreading the word on upcoming meetings and events throughout campus.
“S.W.A.G. assembled a ‘street team,’ which boosted awareness and engagement at upcoming events by creating fliers and distributing them throughout the residence halls, dining hall, and classrooms,” remarked Eugene.
As founder of the club, Eugene also had a goal of further integrating different groups of students, so he often used budget money allocated to S.W.A.G. to co-host parties and events—bringing together members of the Mount community from all corners of campus.
And that’s where the roots of Attorneys with Swag began to sprout.
After spending five years as a public defender, Eugene had a bit of an epiphany moment. After meeting with client after client and seeing some of the same offenders walk through the court system, he realized that there were a lot of things he wished he had known about the law—but didn’t (and he even went to law school!). So, if Eugene was unaware of some of these fundamental facts of the law, how could he expect the everyday citizen to be informed of them?
“As an attorney, I was helping my clients go through a legal process in court, but that experience in and of itself wasn’t teaching them a lesson that would make them avoid that process all together,” explained Eugene. “In my first few years of public defense, I didn’t really feel like I was moving the needle in terms of making it so that my clients didn’t find themselves in the same position over and over again.”
Eugene made it a goal to begin to educate the public on an understanding of the law. He partnered with a group of fellow attorneys to launch Attorneys with Swag.
The goal of the organization is to make legal concepts entertaining so they can be more easily digestible and understood by a general audience—not just those who attended law school. Attorneys with Swag accomplishes this mission in two ways: through their YouTube show, Attorneys with Swag, and through their original music.
Just last week, Attorneys with Swag debuted an all-new music video for their original song, “Deduct It.” The song contains educational verses that provide listeners with an informative lesson on the benefits of making key deductions during tax season. The song premiered just in time for the national tax filing deadline—giving listeners an opportunity to get their funds in order before it’s too late.
“Founding Attorneys with Swag was an opportunity for me to make a change in my community,” expressed Eugene. “I’m proud to be doing my part by turning entertainment into education.”
Even years after his graduation from the Mount, Eugene’s values are still rooted in the qualities of goodness, discipline, and knowledge instilled in him during his days as a Dolphin.
“The Mount taught me how to work hard,” said Eugene. “Being part of a community that was very diverse and filled with a lot of first-generation college students like me, I gained an appreciation for the impact that a higher education can have on people’s lives.”
And Eugene continues to make an impact today—both on the courtroom floor and in his community.
Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the College? Let us know—we’d love to show how the Mount helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!
About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.