Nika Antonikova's Journey to USD

Nika Antonikova's Journey to USD

San Diego (March 7, 2013) – Nika Antonikova, '14 (JD), now a second-year law student, came to San Diego in 2010 from Russia with her husband, who had taken a job in the biotech industry. 

Although Antonikova's father had wanted her to become a tax lawyer when she was heading for college in Russia, she resisted the idea, declaring, "I will never become a lawyer!" Instead, she attended the highly selective Moscow State Lomonosov University, majoring in public policy and administration.

After earning her degree, she worked for non-profits organizing judicial exchange programs with the United States and arranging for U.S. federal judges to visit Russia. "As I talked with these judges, I became very impressed with the U.S. judicial system, which seemed better-organized and more ethical than ours. In Russia, a lot of people do not believe in the judicial system because of the lack of transparency and perceived corruption."

Once in San Diego, Antonikova began reaching out to the judges she had met to get advice about her next career move. "Several of them suggested I go to law school, and I gradually warmed up to the idea. One of the judges I had met, David Laro, a senior judge with the United States Tax Court, works as a Professor-in-Residence at USD, and he was especially encouraging."

Like many first-year law students, Antonikova was anxious and felt overwhelmed at times by the amount of reading: "I was drowning in cases!" But things have gotten steadily better. Antonikova was selected for the San Diego Law Review; she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (VICAM) team; and she also serves as the social co-chair of the Diversity Committee (DivCom). "Involvement in student clubs and organizations gives law students unique opportunities to work in a team. This is one of the most valuable experiences because it prepares students for future work in law firms."

Antonikova has noticed contrasts between the United States and her native Russia. For one thing, she was surprised to find out how few women here get to be partners in law firms. "This seemed discouraging. In Russia, many women are partners in firms, and women judges are common. Women are expected to work, and the government provides affordable day-care so that women do not have to choose between career and family." On the plus side, she finds people here much more respectful of differing groups, differing lifestyles, and differing opinions.

Antonikova visits friends and family in Russia every year, but she prefers the warm and sunny San Diego climate to the long Russian winters. 

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Recognized for the excellence of its faculty, curriculum and clinical programs, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law enrolls approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 81 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 23rd worldwide in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

Nika Antonikova '14 (JD)

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