On Top of the World

A Miami Law husband and wife team, and former HOPE Fellows, work for the U.S. Foreign Service in Nepal.

By Annette Hugues
Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 19, 2013) — When someone thinks of practicing law, few imagine Mount Everest.

But in the breathtaking beauty of Nepal, you’ll find Miami Law alumni Leah Statkus Mueller and Jack Mueller, who are using their legal education every day at work.

“We love living abroad and that was a great part of the appeal to us when we applied to join the Foreign Service,” said Mueller.

The husband and wife team moved to Nepal in November 2011, to accept jobs with USAID. The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, is an independent agency that works in more than 100 countries to provide economic  development and humanitarian assistance in support of the foreign policy goals of the U.S., all while spending less than 1 percent of the total federal budget. 

“We use the analytical skills, critical thinking, and writing skills we learned in law school every day.  In particular, our administrative law course with Professor Copeland has proved invaluable as we are now the government employees that we read about in that course,” said Mueller, a financial management officer responsible for safeguarding U.S. funds.

Statkus Mueller works as a democracy and governance specialist, focusing on conflict management, especially in peace building efforts with the government of Nepal.

But living in Nepal is just another international stop for the 2009 law graduates, who both spent time serving in the Peace Corps together prior to attending law school and working in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.  As HOPE Fellows and a Miami Scholar, Statkus Mueller said that she and her husband were able to discover even more opportunities available to them in public service following graduation. They encourage all law students to keep an open mind.

“Be willing to take risks to follow your interests, your law degree will always be an asset,” she said.

So far the couple said the landscape and people in Nepal have been more than inviting, especially to the couple’s one year old. “It's been great! Nepalis absolutely love children and there are many families here with kids around the same age. We are happy to be able to provide him with so many diverse experiences,” Mueller said.

Both hope to spend their career working with USAID's Foreign Service and to continue traveling the world and putting their law degree to good use.

“We learned that we really have picked the right career path for us,” Mueller said. “The investment in our legal education was worthwhile and the degree will continue to appreciate over time.”

Annette Hugues can be reached at 305-284-1689.

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Jake Mueller and Leah Statkus Mueller with their child in Nepal.

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