The National Association of Realtors will soon embark on a quest to fill the shoes of its top legal champion, now that the group’s chosen successor has turned down the job.

Ralph Holmen, NAR’s associate general counsel, slated to replace NAR’s current general counsel, Laurie Janik, after her retirement at the end of November, has declined the promotion, NAR CEO Dale Stinton said in a message to Realtor association executives.

“As many of you know, we have asked Ralph Holmen, NAR’s associate general counsel, to assume the responsibilities of NAR general counsel upon Laurie Janik’s retirement later this year. Having served the association and its membership for many years, Ralph is highly respected and admired among both staff and Realtors, and we were very much looking forward to his serving in that capacity,” Stinton said.

Ralph Holmen

“However, upon careful consideration, Ralph has decided to remain in his current position and offer support for a new general counsel, to be selected as part of a national search.”

Information on the search will be forthcoming shortly, he added. Janik will still retire as planned, NAR told Inman News.

In an interview with Inman News in August, Janik half-joked that she would not reveal how many hours she works a week for fear that “Ralph will quit before he starts.”

But Holmen said the long hours didn’t scare him off — he has those too — but rather that the work of general counsel “is different in a way that doesn’t necessarily fit my strengths.”

“I enjoy practicing law for the association and, after very deliberative thought, I thought it would be better for me to continue to do that rather than to step into the role of general counsel,” he said.

As associate general counsel, Holmen offers specific legal advice to the national, state and local Realtor associations on a wide variety of issues, including antitrust, federal election law, First Amendment issues, fair housing, not-for-profit taxation, land use and environmental issues.

By contrast, the general counsel is more focused on advising NAR on governance matters, Holmen said. Staying in his current role is an “opportunity to do the work the association values me for,” he added.

The general counsel position also involves a lot more travel, which Holmen said he would have been happy to do, but nonetheless said he “would prefer not to be away from my family that much.”

Holmen, 60, went to work for NAR straight out of law school in 1978 and became associate general counsel for the trade group sometime around 1993, he said. He doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon, he added.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the confidence that NAR and its leadership showed in me,” Holmen said.

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