From the stage to the courtroom, 2L draws on acting experience to build career in law
By: Madeleine Thomas
All the world’s a stage for 2L Kenzie Nothnagel. A classically trained actress, the Ohio native graduated from Rutgers University with her BFA in acting and spent her third year of undergrad performing for the legendary Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London. Before pivoting into law, she lived in New York City, where she made a career working in various roles in television and film.
“As an actress, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to give back to my community. I wanted to find a career where I could both help people and spend every day learning something new,” Nothnagel said. “It’s been great to come back to Ohio after being away for so long. I’ve always loved this state, so to be at the flagship law school here has just been a real honor.”
Although Nothnagel considered a career in social services at first, she realized that a law degree would provide the professional stability she searched for, the intellectual challenge she craved, and a career in which she would have to put the needs of others before her own. Her expertise in the theater, film and television translates surprisingly well into the legal world.
“It’s unconventional, but my acting background definitely helps with networking and interviewing,” she said. “It’s definitely been able to help me prepare beforehand, have my script ready, and help me present. I think there are also a lot of skills that carry over in terms of analyzing scripts and analyzing cases.”
Nothnagel enrolled at the Moritz College of Law envisioning a career as a juvenile criminal defense attorney. While that isn’t exactly the path she still sees herself pursuing, she remains passionate about juvenile rights and serves as president of both the Christian Legal Society and Advocates for Children, a student group committed to addressing legal issues facing children today and promoting opportunities for students interested in child welfare law. Last October Advocates for Children co-hosted the college’s annual 2017 Race Judicata 5k Run/Walk and Kids Fun Run in partnership with the Student Bar Association. The event raised roughly $3,500 to benefit Huckleberry House, a local nonprofit helping children and families navigate issues stemming from homelessness, poverty, neglect, violence and abuse.
Nothnagel accredits her professors as being a constant source of encouragement and motivation as she continues to find her calling in the legal world, from Torts with Professor Martha Chamallas to Legal Writing with Professor Katrina Lee and Business Associations with Professor Paul Rose.
“What’s been most inspiring to me so far are my professors—being able to work with and to be humbled by their intelligence,” she said. “They have allowed me to think broader and more outside myself. They’re helping me form the vision of the lawyer I want to become.”