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Esquire Couple Teaches on Top of the World

Catharine Skipp
TARS TEACH NEPALIS Rollins alumni enjoy the scenery in their off time. Nepalis welcomed the esquire couple and their one year old baby in 2011. Photo from Catharine Skipp

When someone thinks of practicing law, few imagine Mount Everest or the rolling plains of India. But in the beautiful country of Nepal, you’ll find Rollins College and University of Miami School of Law alumna Leah Statkus Mueller, with her husband, Jake Mueller, 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,” says Mueller.

The husband and wife esquire team moved to Nepal in November 2011, to accept jobs with the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID. USAID  is an independent agency that works in over 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,” says Mueller, a Financial Management Officer responsible for safeguarding U.S. Government 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 says 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.”

So far the couple says the landscape has been an incredible place to work, and people in Nepal have been more than inviting, especially to the couple’s one year old. As Mueller says, “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.”

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.  The investment in our legal education was worthwhile and the degree will continue to appreciate over time.”

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