With four years’ experience as legal counsel for a Moscow publishing company, Margarita Zakiyan LLM ’07 knew she wanted to continue focusing on intellectual property law. But she also knew she wanted to expand her knowledge base in that area and eventually work for a large international company.
Zakiyan, who holds a law degree from Russia, realized she first needed international experience. That’s when she decided to pursue an LLM at the USF School of Law.
With an LLM in International Transactions and Comparative Law from USF, Margarita was able to make the leap to working for international tech companies, first at Microsoft and now at Google. As legal counsel for Google Russia, she handles legal work related to Google products and services in the region.
“Working at Google means working on the most cutting-edge tech issues, things that are developing day-to-day,” Zakiyan says. “Knowing that you as a lawyer can contribute even a little bit to a progress that technology is making nowadays makes me think that I am totally in the right spot and on the right career path.”
At USF, having this personal attention to every student and with professors being very approachable, you feel like you’re in this big family that really cares about you."
Before joining Google Russia, Zakiyan worked for Microsoft in Russia as a commercial attorney, handling everything from software licensing deals and cloud computing deals to marketing deals.
Because of her interest in intellectual property, Zakiyan knew that she wanted to attend a law school in the Bay Area for her LLM degree. USF stood out.
“The Bay Area is undoubtedly the world capital for intellectual property development with all the tech companies next door,” she says. “USF was the best option for me, being surrounded by tech companies, and being taught by wonderful faculty, with a strong curriculum. I also wanted a smaller program, and USF was exactly that. It provided that personal attention to students.”
USF School of Law, she says, was invaluable in teaching her not only about the U.S. legal system, which differs from the Russian legal system, but also about developing soft skills and learning about cultural differences.
USF was the best option for me, being surrounded by tech companies, and being taught by wonderful faculty, with a strong curriculum. I also wanted a smaller program, and USF was exactly that. It provided that personal attention to students."
And while being an international student learning a new legal system and culture was challenging, Zakiyan knew she always had the full support of USF. “At USF, having this personal attention to every student and with professors being very approachable, you feel like you’re in this big family that really cares about you,” she says.
Zakiyan particularly admires USF’s legal mentor program. “Yuliya Oryol ’96, my mentor in law school, has been a source of inspiration for me. Today she remains my mentor, a person who I can always reach out to for advice and whose opinion I value a lot.”
USF’s emphasis on respect for diversity and different cultures is a value Zakiyan carries with her today. “I’m always working within a diverse environment and having that respect for a diversity of viewpoints and approaches is particularly important when working for an international company. That’s very important to me and USF emphasized it well.”