Thursday, March 7, 2013
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 Nika'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, Nika 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, Nika was anxious and felt overwhelmed at times by the amount of reading: "I was drowning in cases!" But things have gotten steadily better. Nika 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."
Nika 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.
Nika visits friends and family in Russia every year, but she prefers the warm and sunny San Diego climate to the long Russian winters.