The Story of Nikula Lawyers

The roots of Nikula lawyer family are in Bothnia, West Coast of Finland. The strong values of Nikula lawyers have been freedom, legalism, and justice.

The roots of Nikula lawyer family are in Bothnia, West Coast of Finland. The strong values of Nikula lawyers have been freedom, legalism, and justice.  

When Finland was an autonomous region (1809-1918) of Russia, Matti Nikula served the Czar in Kokkola, Bothnia. The obligations of Matti Nikula included execution of courts’ writs and maintenance of general law and order in the area. The Russian Czar granted Matti Nikula an honor of a Russian Order of Chivalry for his meritorious achievements. Nikula was known to be a fair man who acted according to the laws of Finland, and defended the Finnish laws against the Russian oppression which he regarded unlawful.

A son of Matti Nikula, Artturi Nikula (born 1892) studied also law but left Finland in 1915 in order to obtain military training in the troops of the Prussian Keisern. Finland did not have any army of its own. Artturi returned back to Finland in 1918 after the declaration of independence in Dec. 1917. Artturi was calm and temperate. He made his career in the official military forces of Finland. He acted under the legally elected government of Finland, and was one of those who created the defence forces of Finland. He served as a Commander of troops in Salmi in the eastern boarder (nowadays part of Russia.

On his secret trip from Kokkola to Sweden (and then to Prussia), Artturi spent a night in the Hannuksela ranch in Laihia, Bothia. Years later Artturi married Rauha, the younger daughter of Hannuksela. Artturi stated: “Parabellum is for Peace”. (Peace = Rauha)  The family lived in several locations (eg. Kokkola, Rovaniemi, Salmi ….) as Artturi was serving in the armed forces. They had 3 sons and a daughter. The bombing of frontier areas and railways left an imprint in the minds of the children. Artturi was wounded deadly in 1942 in the Finnish continuation war (1941-1944). His grave is in the soldier’s grave in Laihia, and his name is graved in the jaeger megalith in Kokkola.

Around the same times in Kirvu, Carelia (located east of the present eastern boarder) Esko Räikkönen, farmer, and his family were cultivating their crops. Esko Räikkönen was deeply religious and treated all his children – sons and daughters – equally. The old man emphasized the importance of working, and told his children not to take any political action. “We are farmers, and take care of the harverst.”

Helena Räikkönen, the middle daughter, married a tall and handsome young man, Uuno Nousiainen, whose family lived nearby. They moved to Varkaus where Uuno worked in the Ahlstroem paper mill. The had a daughter Raili. As a child, Raili also experienced the evacuation from the farm where she was spending her summer holiday.

All three sons of Artturi ended up to be lawyers. Osmo Nikula was an advocate in Kokkola. Martti Nikula was an advocate in Vaasa, and taught in the University of Tampere. The younges boy, Immo Nikula (born 1935) just wanted to play football and dreamt of being a jazz pianist. Immo began to study law after receiving the old law books form his older brother. 

During the study years (1950’s) Immo met Raili, his wife-to-be. After their marriage they got two children: Anne and Arto.   

Immo learnt advocacy in the Attorneys’ Office Nikula & Nikula owned his brother Osmo and his uncle Mauri Nikula. Mauri Nikula played an important role in the life of Immo who had lost his father at the age of 5. Mauri guided Immo in advocacy. Their sense of humor did match well.

However, Immo chose to become a civil servant – just like his grand father and his father – but soon he left the Vaasa  provincial office because he refused to contribute in any process which he regarded to be misuse of administrative powers and abuse of transport licences.  

The family of Immo and Raili moved to Helsinki where Immo began his new task in the Court of Appeal. Immo also had many secondary tasks: first the Advocate Office of Axel Planting, then the international group of companies (Kati-Myynti), and many Arbitration Courts. Immo participated in high-level negotiations with the Labour Minister, and made some business trips to Far East in the 1980’s. He gave up the secondary tasks when he was appointed as a lagman of the Court of Appeal.

Immo highlighted legality and justice. Once an accused before the Court of Appeal bursted out: ”This is the first time when someone listens to me.” As a lagmen and head of his department Immo strived to make the functions of the Court more efficient, and to speed up the processes. The vast practical experience in advocacy was a great advantance in doing this.

Immo was respected in business and in the Court. He received a funny teddy bear diploma ”The Best Lagman of the Court of Appeal” from his staff in 1996 – this merit made him always smile. The President of the Republic of Finland granted Immo an honor ”the Commander of 1st class of the the Chivalry of the Finnish” in 1997. Immo was a dued-in-the wool lawyer who dealt with legal cases even during his holidays and retirement. He passed away in 2013.

Anne Nikula is a lawyer in the 4th generation. She dreamt of being a vet. She still loves the nature and animals. As a child she followed his father to the office of Planting where there was a memorable painting on the wall. The maid of Finland was defending the Law against the attack of the Russian two-headed eagle – this painting describes the Finnish struggle against suppression.

The importance of ability to see things and to be able to think widely was emphasized by Immo. ”It is important to understand the basic business in order to be able to take care of legal matters concerning business life.” That’s why Anne acquired a commercial formation. Then she got the master’s degree from the University of Helsinki (1990) and went through the Court training in Lohtaja District Court where his farther and uncles had also been trained. Vaasa Court of Appeal granted Anne a honorary title in Dec. 1991.

The deep economic depression in the 1990’s affected to the work situation. Anne had been employed in the banking sector and in business in the 1980’s.  The nature of the cases changed and Anne started to deal with advocacy cases in Helsinki and in Kokkola. Her mentors’ have been her farther Immo Nikula (lagman), her uncle Osmo Nikula (advocate), and Mr Ossi Havusela (CPA auditor).  In the 1990’s Anne became familiar e.g. with the European Convention on Human Rights (Finland ratified the convention in 1990).

In 1998, Anne transferred to the Tax Administration in order to learn profoundly tax laws and to promote the legal administration and business activities. She paid attention to the quality of the  administrative decision and the need for international collaboration. The administration gave support to two long study trips – London & Isle of Mann in 1999, Paris in 2001.   From her father Anne had learnt to admire the English judicial system in which the judges had got practical experience as barristers. In Finland the judges mostly lack the practical experience which affects their ability to make decisions – especially concerning business law.   During the years 1999 – 2011 Anne visited London several times – and attended EU Law courses (by Lontoon King’s College and European Law Society), and the English Law and advocacy (by Bar Council and the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple).

Yet when Anne was young her way of thinking was expanded by a exchange student year in the United States. The Youth For Understanding organization offered her a chance in 1979-1980. She attended the North Penn High School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania – a very upscale school offering various courses and activities. The family of Mr Robert Kagler Sr (Director of Merck) welcomed Anne into their home. Robert Kagler gave “Liberty” themed keepsakes (a paper weight and a wall-decoration) which Anne still have in her office room. The American way of life became a part of the Nikulas’ every day life. Her parents supported her and highlighted the importance of language skills and education as well as freedom and justice. 

Perhaps the most significat case affecting Anne’s life and career has been a case where she was involved in person. The European Court of  Human Rights gave a judgment in a case concerning freedom of speech (Anne Nikula v. Finland, judgement in 2002). The process lasted about 10 years. In Dec. 2000 Anne took a flight to London and went to meet Ms Marianne Meyer-Wang, a lawyer practicing in New York nowadays. Several lawyers around the world attended into this process concerning defence councels’ right to say the truth – except the Finnish advocates. The amicus curiae -submission was arranged by Interrights and Meyer-Wang.   

The articles written by Anne Nikula endeavour legality and justice. The articles concerning the European Convention on Human Rights, complaints, and Finland have been published by the True Finns and the National Coalition Party in 2004. Certain writings concerning taxation and legal predictability have been published by Edilex.fi.

Anne shifted from the tax administration to the OP Bank where she was focusing in tax and wealth related cases in 2011-2018. In November 2018 Nikula Legal Ltd (est. 1992) was activated – after a 20-year-long intermission.  The first Clients were from the OP Bank.

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