Courtroom Drama: Theatre Alumna Practices Law
April 19, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – For some, the excitement and anticipation of the first day of
college can overwhelm the mind, turning the experience into nothing more than a generic
blur of recollections. However, for others, the first day of class can make a long-lasting
While standing in a circle among fellow theatre majors on the very first day of class,
Illinois Wesleyan University alumna Samantha Glaudel, class of ’93, learned a lesson
that would remain with her for the rest of her professional life.
As a student raised his arm to look at his watch, Professor Emeritus John Ficca asked
the student what time it was. “The student did not know. Dr. Ficca told us at that
point to never make a move without a purpose – otherwise it would not be believable.
That lesson sticks out to me every time I do anything in front of an audience – whether
the audience is in the theatre, a jury box, or watching my films,” said Glaudel.
Although Glaudel graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in theatre
performance, she immediately went on to pursue her studies in law at Southern Illinois
University (SIU) School of Law. Upon graduating with a juris doctorate in 1996, Glaudel
worked in the district attorney’s office and also had experience in private practice.
Between the two jobs, she has had six years of trial work, with a few hundred cases
going to trial. Today, Glaudel works as the senior staff attorney for the chief judge
in her judicial circuit in Savannah, Ga.
For Glaudel, there is a correlation between acting and the law. “When an attorney
tries a case in front of a jury – or even a judge – the attorney is presenting material
that tells the story of his/her client’s circumstances,” Glaudel said. She explained
how an attorney has to memorize the facts of the case, comparing them to lines in
a play. An attorney must do an opening and closing, which is much like setting the
scene. When a client changes testimony, she said, an attorney has to think on his/her
feet, which is similar to another actor dropping his/her lines.
“Not only has my theatre background helped me with stage-fright in front of a jury,
but it has helped me learn how to memorize facts in a story format,” said Glaudel.
“And, as an added bonus, theatre majors learn relaxation techniques which have proved
to be immensely helpful in stressful cases,” she explained.
Though Glaudel chose to follow law after graduation, she said, “the experiences I
had at IWU as a student helped me make informed choices as to how I wanted to continue
my life after IWU.” While still on campus, she even considered leaving the major.
“Each time I attempted to change my major, [Professor Emeritus John Ficca] would bring
me right back in and tell me to do what was right – which was to remain in the theatre
program. He believed in me more than I believed in myself,” said Glaudel.
The attorney still remains active in theatre, performing in a number of community
productions, films and commercials. She has also served on the Board of Governors
for the Little Theatre of Savannah, the longest running community theatre in Savannah.
Advising students to stay with what they love, Glaudel says, “Keep with it, if it
is really what you want to do. It does not matter if it is on Broadway, the tiny little
beach theatre, or the courtroom – just do it.”
Contact: Kristin Fields, ’12, (309) 556-3181