FBI Director Mueller to Speak at Graduation

November 18, 2002

Mueller said the Law School welcomed his experience in Vietnam at a time when some schools looked suspiciously at military service.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has been chosen by the Student Bar Association to speak at the 2003 Law School graduation May 18.

"We are delighted that FBI Director Mueller will be the graduation speaker for the Class of 2003," SBA speaker committee head Aaron Longo said. "As an alumnus who has committed his entire professional career to public service and government work, Director Mueller is the embodiment of the Law School and I can't think of a better person to send the graduating class off into the law world with the right message. We are looking forward to hearing him speak and thank Dean Jeffries [a classmate of Mueller's] for his help in securing Director Mueller as the speaker."

Mueller was sworn in as FBI Director only days prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, after which the FBI took on a new role in counterterrorism and national security efforts. A Princeton graduate, Mueller served as a Marine in the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star, two Navy commendation medals, the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After being wounded he returned to civilian life and graduated from the Law School in 1973. Mueller said he appreciated at the time that the Law School looked at his military service as an advantage.

"There are schools that want pure smarts and there are others that look for the judgment and maturity that show you have done something else besides going straight into law school. I think Virginia has been good in that regard," Mueller said. "And it is important to inculcate in that leadership certain values which may be different in those other schools that are preparing people for the legal profession alone, as opposed to some kind of public service."

Mueller served in private practice after law school but later became an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Northern California and quickly rose through the ranks. He joined the Justice Department in 1989 and took on the high-profile prosecution of Manuel Noriega. Later, as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, he would work on other high profile cases such as the Lockerbie bombing case and the Gotti prosecution. In the late 1990s he served as Chief of the Homicide Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, and then returned as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

While his previous work was prominent in the news, the ongoing terror threat has catapulted Mueller himself into the public spotlight as never before.

"You have the rewards of being involved in the critically important investigations, whether it is the investigation of the hijackers or anthrax or the like," he said of his job. "The joy of it is that you are doing it for the country, you are doing it for other FBI agents, you are doing it for the community, and you are doing it for the people. That is tremendously rewarding."

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