BYU Law Grad Named to “Women of Influence” List

By Rachel Edwards

For June Babiracki Barlow (’80) the year 2020 marks two important milestones: 40 years since she graduated from BYU Law and 40 years since she began work as a fledgling attorney in the emerging legal department of the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.). Today, as general counsel and senior vice president of C.A.R., the state’s largest trade association for real estate services, Barlow has built a reputation as a leader within her own organization and in the housing industry at large. The BYU Law alumna was recently named to Housing Wire’s “Women of Influence” list, which recognizes women whose work is moving the mortgage and housing industry forward. This is no small accomplishment in Barlow’s home state of California, which faces a long-standing housing shortage. And despite having been with the same organization for over four decades, Barlow insists her job is never dull. “There’s always something cutting edge,” she says, “it’s really interesting and I’m still learning.”

Barlow grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. Although friends from high school say that she always talked about becoming a lawyer, Barlow remembers it differently. “When I got to BYU as an undergrad, I was confused about my major. I loved math and decided to pursue that.” But before graduation Barlow set her sights on law school at BYU and worked for C.A.R. between terms. “They didn’t really have a legal department then, but they were planning on launching one. As it grew, I began to clerk for them. They liked my work and offered me a job right out of law school. I’ve stayed ever since. It has been very dynamic, which is why it has stayed so interesting. The organization has changed and evolved a lot. ”

As general counsel, Barlow oversees a team of thirty highly trained attorneys working in multiple divisions and specialties. “In a trade association, you have a broad responsibility of managing long term legal strategies through appellate work, preventive law initiatives and standard forms, to name a few, and focusing on member needs.” Barlow says that member needs is the litmus test for decision-making at C.A.R.. “We are very member focused. We are always asking, ‘What can we do to bring value to our REALTORS® members?’” In addition to providing members with hundreds of standardized residential real estate forms and a legal hotline, C.A.R. maintains a legal action fund and a separate government affairs department to track legislation and regulations that affect real estate brokerage and property rights. “The legal department collaborates with our robust governmental affairs department which is lead until the bills are passed. Then we educate our members and help proactively with compliance and education,” says Barlow. “California is a very active state and our Legislative staff tracks anywhere from 3,000-6,000 bills every year, many of which relate to real estate and housing.”   

Barlow has also been instrumental in launching Californians for Homeownership, a non-profit legal foundation seeking to enforce laws that protect and promote access to affordable housing and fighting policies that limit such access. “We have a serious housing crisis [in California] where communities just don’t allow housing to be built. We believe it’s a supply problem and an overregulation problem.” The foundation recently filed lawsuits against the cities of Whittier and Huntington Beach after they refused housing projects. “We believe in home ownership—that’s our passion. We want there to be an affordable option for people to get on the housing ladder and create some stability in their lives and the lives of their families.”

Notwithstanding Barlow’s impressive track record of dedicated leadership, accomplishment, and service, her recent recognition by Housing Wire came as a surprise to her. “The housing sector is broad and there are a lot of talented people in it. My colleagues did this under the radar, so I was learning about it as I was being awarded. It touched me that it came from my colleagues.”

Reflecting on the ways that her legal career has been shaped by BYU Law, Barlow credits Professor Edward Kimball for teaching her how to think like a lawyer. “That was really important. I remember him telling us ‘You need to think critically, to see all sides of an issue.’ I realized I didn’t need to betray my values, but I could not think narrowly and let my personal opinions cloud analysis.” This skill continues to serve Barlow well.  “Whether through input on legislation, appellate court work, changing or creating standard forms or other preventive efforts, we love fixing things that need fixing and feeling like we have the power to do it.”