Lauren Barros wanted to find a career that aligned with a simple but challenging goal: To make a difference in the world.
“I knew law school would give me more power to help make the world a better place,” said Barros, who arrived at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in 1990 with an interest in environmental and civil rights law.
Barros found the right training opportunities and made lifelong friends during her law school experience. After graduating with her juris doctor degree in 1993, Barros worked as an attorney with Cohne, Rappaport and Segal, the Disability Law Center, the Utah Labor Commission, and Utah Legal Services.
She founded LRB Family Law, a full-service family law firm based in Salt Lake City, in 2002. The firm assists clients through the legal processes of divorce, dissolution, custody, adoption, grandparent visitation, guardianship, and assisted reproductive technology.
“I run LRB Family Law and practice divorce, custody, adoption, and surrogacy law. I continue to really enjoy my job, my clients, my coworkers, and the other attorneys with whom I work. A lot of my surrogacy clients are from other countries, and I enjoy having them over for dinner with their new babies because they are in a foreign place with a newborn, and so appreciative,” said Barros. “ I am usually excited when I wake up and realize it is a weekday, because I get to spend the day figuring out problems, and trying to help people.”
A native of Dover, Delaware, Barros arrived in Utah after completing her undergraduate degree at Colorado College. She said her experience in law school —where she graduated as a William H. Leary Scholar, with a Clark Dewsnup Scholarship in Natural Resources Law — helped to build her skill set and important critical thinking skills.
“Law school taught me that I can master an issue if I am really interested in the topic, that asking questions outweighs the risk of looking dumb, and that speed reading, organization, and creating a list of priorities every day allows me to get a lot done and still exercise/recreate,” she said.
Outside of the classroom, Barros built relationships with classmates who remain her friends today —in part when she went on an outing to explore Utah’s opportunities in the great outdoors.
“I went on a few backpacking trips with a group of 3 classmates in law school, and they became my closest friends while I was there. On these trips, we formed the memories that stuck: We huddled together in a tent in a hail storm in the Wind Rivers, while one of us read the Hobbit out loud. We stood stranded and helpless for two days on an island in a Grand Gulch flash flood, placing our water bottles in strategic locations to catch drinking water,” she said. “We drank saline solution when we couldn’t find the “spring” on the map in Capitol Reef. We sang songs and endured black fly sand marches in 90- degree heat. And we screamed with glee when we swam in icy mountain lakes.”
Barros has been an active volunteer and champion of LGBT rights throughout her career. In 2009, she and a group of attorneys and law students created Rainbow Law, the first pro bono LGBT Law Clinic in Utah. She also served as chair of the Equality Utah Legal Panel.
Besides human rights work, Barros has previously also volunteered as a small claims court judge in the Third District Court from 1998 to 2005; as a member of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team from 1998 to 2003 and as a member of the Board of the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Forecasters from 2005 to 2007.
More recently, she has focused her energy on advocating on behalf of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-profit designed to shape national policies to address climate change and also speaks out about needed changes to improve Utah’s air pollution problems. Earlier this month, Barros traveled to Washington D.C. with her husband, daughter, and a friend to meet with members of congress about a carbon fee.
“I love being with my family – my husband, daughter, and parents – and my friends. This is what I hate to give up whenever I engage in a volunteer activity. So I try to do volunteer activities that allow me to rope in my family and friends,” said Barros.
“I started a free LGBT law clinic a few years ago, and brought my daughter on clinic nights and my husband to the Equality Utah Board. I engaged my parents as actors in a role play for an LGBT law seminar and brought my mother to LGBT law conferences. I was a member of the Salt Lake County Search and Rescue Team for many years with my husband, and we brought our daughter when she was a baby to rescues, taking turns with her in the command post,” she said.