Salvador LaViña is a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in real estate and corporate law with a love of all things Bruin. He found his way to UCLA through a program at his high school that allowed him to take classes at UCLA. He says of his 15-year-old self, “It was like this awesome, spectacular combination of all the knowledge in the universe and Disneyland all in one. I was blown away to have the opportunity to study at UCLA.”
When the time came to apply for college, he applied and was accepted at UCLA. He says, “For me, UCLA was a time when I felt like I was reaching for intellectual limits. My group of friends and I enjoyed our studies.” He carried a full-load of classes and worked two or three jobs. On weekends, without the time or means for much else, he and friends would go to the Nuart or Crest theater to watch samurai movies, or the Rialto in Pasadena to watch classic, old movies. LaViña graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a degree in English.
After UCLA, LaViña considered several career options. His dad, who moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines, worked for a legal newspaper called The Daily Journal. LaViña approached the Journal’s publisher with a proposition – he would work as an intern, to earn a paid position on his own merit. He covered local stories, including the DeLorean trial, and interviewed prominent judges and lawyers. The experience led him to pursue a law career, attending Columbia Law School, where he graduated with a J.D. in 1987.
LaViña returned to Los Angeles where he practices real estate and corporate law. With more than 29 years of experience, he advises clients on a broad range of legal and business issues and has closed several billion dollars worth of deals.
LaViña says, “I didn’t have mentors growing up, but I’ve seen how helpful they can be. To help a high school kid who’s talented but doesn’t know their potential is very rewarding. If I can help a few kids every couple of years, that’s a great investment.” He has served on a number of nonprofit boards including The Village Family Services and Para los Niños. He participates in all things Bruin, including the UCLA Alumni Association, mentoring and community building events for alumni and students, and attends UCLA sports events, football and basketball games in particular, with friends and family.
This will be LaViña’s second year as general counsel of the UCLA Alumni Association Board, a group who share his energetic and enthusiastic commitment to UCLA. He’s looking forward to continuing their work to increase alumni networking, develop progressive fundraising models and advocating for the importance of diversity. He says, “I feel passionate about UCLA, and education in general, and I hope to energize people to be involved.”