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Two Virginia law professors receive statewide outstanding faculty award

A pair of Virginia law school professors are among 12 recipients of a statewide award honoring outstanding faculty at Virginia’s institutes of higher learning.

University of Virginia Law Professor Rachel Harmon and University of Richmond Law Professor Julie McConnell were announced as recipients of the 2023 Outstanding Faculty Awards by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, or SCHEV, and Dominion Energy last month.

Harmon and McConnell will receive their awards, including a $7,500 gift from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, at an in-person ceremony in Richmond in March 2023.

According to the SCHEV, the award recognizes faculty at Virginia’s colleges and universities “who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service.” Nominees are selected by the institutions and are reviewed by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors.

Harmon is currently the Harrison Robertson Professor of Law and Class of 1957 Research Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, where she has taught since 2006. Prior to joining the faculty at U.Va., Harmon spent eight years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to U.Va., Harmon’s 2021 casebook “The Law of the Police” is “the first resource for students and others seeking to understand and evaluate how American law governs police interactions with the public.”

Harmon is also the director of U.Va. Law’s Center for Criminal Justice, which serves as the school’s hub for scholarship and activities involving criminal law. As a professor, she teaches in the subjects of criminal law and procedure, policing and civil rights.

An alum of Yale Law School, Harmon earned two master’s degrees with distinction from the London School of Economics as a British Marshall Scholar. Following law school, Harmon clerked for U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Guido Calabresi and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

McConnell is currently a professor of law, legal practice at the University of Richmond School of Law. She has also served as the director of the law school’s Children’s Defense Clinic since 2011, a litigation-oriented clinic focusing on the needs of indigent children before the court on delinquency or immigration matters and post-conviction challenges for persons originally sentenced as minors.

For more than 25 years, McConnell has represented children and families and is a frequent speaker and writer on her experiences in that area of law, where she and her students continue to represent indigent youth on a pro bono basis. She also consults as a juvenile legal system expert in Virginia criminal cases.

McConnell has previously worked as both an assistant public defender and a child abuse and domestic violence prosecutor, the former as a supervisor in the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. Presently, she chairs the Virginia Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Prevention and the Virginia Bar Association Committee on the Needs of Children.

McConnell earned her law degree from the University of Richmond in 1999 and previously clerked for Virginia Court of Appeals Judge James W. Benton Jr.