In our Student Spotlight series, we hear from UCLA Law students about what brought them to law school, what they love about being on campus, and where they hope their UCLA Law education will take them. This month, we spoke to Ariana Bustos '22, the president of the Moot Court Honors Board and the co-chief production editor of the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs. The Arizona native has been involved in moot court competitions—and winning them!—since her middle school days, and loves the professional and personal skills it teaches. She also appreciates the balance of teamwork and individual achievement that comes from participating in program, an apt analogy to her chosen career.
What brought you to UCLA Law?
In choosing a law school I asked myself, "Where would I be happiest?" That made it an easy choice. Every person I met here seemed happy. Even if they were stressed out, whether because of finals or a project or their job search. And I felt welcome here. I didn't feel nearly as welcomed anywhere else as I did here at UCLA. And the good, sunny weather. That makes me happy, too.
What besides moot court have been big parts of your UCLA law experience that you have really loved?
A big part is the Latinx Law Student Association. I was on the board as a 2L, as the Externals co-chair with Carlos Martinez. We made a mentorship program for Latinx students to be paired with Latinx lawyers. It went incredibly well and that is something that I've done here that is sustainable and will carry on after I graduate. I'm the admissions chair for the organization, so I have stayed involved.
This year, I’m also the Co-Chief Production Editor at the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs. Last year, I was one of the editors of that journal, and also the Entertainment Law Review.
So many crazy things have happened in the last three years. Despite all those things, despite the pandemic, despite this crazy moment in history, I have felt a sense of community here. There were virtual community events. I was able to develop that mentoring program. Even though many horrible things were going on in the world, UCLA Law was a good place to through all of it. And I'm really impressed with my student peers because they were the ones putting on those community events. The students really came together and figured things out. The administration helped a lot, but I have been ultra-impressed with my fellow students.
So, now let's talk about Moot Court.
Yes! Another example of something totally student run, by the way. It really takes a good team around you. As the President of the Moot Court Honors Board, it became my job to pick my team of officers, the VPs of our internal competitions and external competitions, and the special competitions such as the Roscoe Pound and Skye Donald tournaments. I think I picked well because every single one of them would step up whenever I had to focus on my own competition, or studying for the MPRE, or working for the journal. Someone is always ready to help and to do a great job. We keep it collaborative and communicative. I really loved working with everybody on the Board.
Congratulations on winning the Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition! You won a team prize and an individual prize, is that right?
Oh, thank you so much! Yes, John Cagan and I competed together and won the competition, and I was named Best Advocate.
How long have you been doing Moot Court?
My first competition was age 11. My mom, who’s an attorney who loved moot court when she was in law school, wanted to make a program for middle schoolers. Of course, I had to be a part of it because she's my mom! And then I participated in high school competitions. I took a break in college but knew I wanted to come back to it in law school.
Did you always know you were going to go to law school?
I was interested in law school ever since winning a Best Oral Advocate award in the Duke High School Moot Court Competition. But I was also very interested in journalism. So, I went to journalism school thinking, "If this doesn't work out, I'll go to law school." What happened was that I really loved journalism, but I thought I might like law school even better. And I have! Law school has been great.
And moot court has really helped. I am very introverted, but I'm not shy. It can be hard for me to talk to people. Moot court has helped me, because if I can go up in front of a panel of judges, have them bombard me with questions, and have good answers, that should be a lot scarier than talking with a few attorneys at a networking event. Of course, it isn’t always less scary, but the practice helps a lot. And it is definitely a great thing to mention on the résumé. People always ask about it and it’s fun to talk about.
Professor Babbe, the faculty advisor of Moot Court, obviously! I also really like Professor Dale Cohen. I did the documentary film legal clinic with him. And that was great not only because I was journalist, and so the documentary experience was a little familiar, but because I wanted to see if I was interested in transactional law. Something a little different from pure litigation. Prof. Cohen had a similar path to mine, working as a journalist and then becoming a lawyer, so I could relate to him that way. And I love how a great professor can help you love a subject. I didn't think I would like Remedies, but I do and it’s because Professor Patrick Goodman teaches the class. Honestly, there have been so many great professors, I can’t possibly name them all.
Is there a non-law school activity that allows you to kind of clear your head from time to time?
Olympic-style weightlifting. I love weightlifting. I did it in high school and college. Olympic-style weightlifting is just two lifts: the clean and jerk, and the snatch. And that's it. Every workout you do is to improve one of those two lifts. You're not competing with another person, you’re competing against yourself. And I've always been very competitive!
That’s a fantastic—and unexpected—answer. Last question: What are you doing next year?
I'm going to Cooley LLP in San Francisco as an associate doing general business litigation. I don't plan on specializing in any one thing right away but they do a lot of technology law and I hope I will get to do some of that. But I want to explore as much as I can. UCLA Law is amazing at nurturing the skills of focusing deeply but also how to be curious and flexible. So, I can’t wait to see how that guides my career.