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 Julie  Ellen  McConnell
Julie Ellen McConnell
Director, Children's Defense Clinic
Clinical Professor of Law
Courses Taught Children's Defense Clinic

Professor Julie E. McConnell is a Clinical Law Professor and Director of the Children’s Defense Clinic. In addition to the Clinic, she teaches Advanced Clinical Practice, Juvenile Delinquency Law and Procedure, and the Science of False Confessions. 

Through the clinic, she and her students represent on a pro bono basis, indigent youth throughout Central Virginia who are charged with acts of delinquency. The clinic also represents young people in post-conviction serious offender reviews and adults seeking resentencing on mandatory life sentences they received as minors. Additionally, the clinic represents guardians seeking custody of undocumented children in special immigrant juvenile status cases. Previously, she served six years as a prosecutor in the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, where she was a supervisor in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. In that office, she specialized in the prosecution of violent juvenile crimes, domestic violence, elder abuse, child physical and sexual abuse, and domestic homicide cases. 

She is a frequent speaker on the topics of best practices in juvenile representation, trauma-informed practice, elder abuse, the impact of child abuse and sexual abuse on children, and clinical education. For more than four years, she was part of a multi-disciplinary team funded by the federal Office on Violence Against Women, which conducted trainings on the successful prosecution of elder abuse for law-enforcement and prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth. 

Prior to becoming a prosecutor, McConnell served as an assistant public defender and before that as a law clerk for the Honorable James W. Benton in the Virginia Court of Appeals. Before law school, she worked with the Virginia ACLU and as a community organizer and lobbyist for several not-for-profits in the Virginia General Assembly and served as a counselor and special education teacher at a group home for delinquent youths. In 2011, she received the Oliver Hill Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court’s “Unsung Hero” Award. In 2015, she was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to a four-year term on the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and is now serving as co-chair. In 2016, she was selected to serve on the Virginia Bar Association’s Commission on the Needs of Children. In 2017, she was honored as the Richmond YWCA’s Outstanding Woman in Education. And in 2018, she was chosen as the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association’s Woman of Achievement.


Oliver Hill Juvenile Justice and Domestic Relations Court's 2011 "Unsung Hero" Award

Richmond YWCA's 2017 Outstanding Woman Award in Education

Metropolitan Richmond Women's Bar Association's 2018 Woman of Achievement
Panelist, "Panel Discussion on Mental Health in Virginia's Juvenile Justice System," Regent University Law Review's 31st Annual Symposium, Virginia Beach (Nov. 2018).
Presenter, "Panel Discussion," Regent University Law Review’s 31st Annual Symposium, Regent University School of Law (Nov. 2018).
Presenter, "Plenary Presentation," 2018 Robert E. Shepherd Juvenile Law and Education Conference, University of Richmond School of Law (May 2018).
Panelist, "Criminal Justice and the School to Prison Pipeline," Bonner Scholars Training, University of Richmond (May 2018).
Presenter, "2017-2018 Virginia Caselaw Update," Robert E. Shepherd Juvenile Law and Education Conference, Richmond (May 2018).
Panelist, "Panel Discussion on Criminal Justice and the School-to-Prison Pipeline," University of Richmond Bonner Scholars Program (May 2018).
Presenter, "Interviewing Children for Investigators," 2017 Indigent Defense Commission Investigators Conference, Richmond (Nov. 2017).
Presenter, "Understanding the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Virginia," Rotary Club of Richmond (Nov. 2017).
Presenter, "30 Top Tips for Excellence in Juvenile Defense," Virginia Indigent Defense Commission Annual Conference, Portsmouth, Va. (Oct. 2017).
Presenter, "Criminal Best Practices in Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Juvenile Court," Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court Bench Bar Conference (Sept. 2017).
Presenter, "Understanding the School to Prison Pipeline in Richmond," Leadership Metro Richmond's Convening Leaders (Aug. 2017).
Presenter, "2016-2017 Virginia Caselaw Update," Robert E. Shepherd Juvenile Law and Education Conference, Richmond (May 2017).
Presenter, "Trying a Miller/Montgomery Sentencing or Resentencing Case," NITA/Juvenile Law Center Trial Advocacy Program, Baker & McKenzie, Houston, Tx. (July 2017).

"Fourth Amendment Challenges in Juvenile Cases in Virginia," Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center Training Immersion Program, Abingdon, Va. (April 2017).

Presenter, "What You Need to Know about the Transformation of Virginia's Juvenile Justice System," 47th Annual Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Seminar, Charlottesville (Feb. 2017).

Presenter, "Developing a Trauma-Informed Lens in JDR Court Practice," Annual Statewide Public Defender Conference, Virginia Indigent Defense Commission (Oct. 2016).

Panelist, "Addressing School Discipline and Court Referrals for Students with Disabilities," Blueprints for Change: Criminal Justice Policy Issues in Virginia--Addressing School Discipline and Court Referrals for Students with Disabilities, Richmond (Sept. 2016).

Panelist, Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Juvenile Justice and Education, Richmond (Sept. 2016).

Presenter, "A Trauma-Informed Approach to Juvenile Justice," Washington County Courts Best Practices Conference, Abingdon, Va. (Aug. 2016).

"Effective Representation of Children who Have Experienced Trauma," Adverse Childhood Experiences & Community Resilience Summit, Richmond Department of Social Services (Aug. 2016).

CLE Presenter, "Reasonable Expectations of Defense Attorneys and Guardians ad Litem," Initiatin Meaingful Prosecution at Critical Times (IMPACT) Training, Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys, Smith Mountain Lake, Va. (May 2016).

Presenter, "Clinical Experiences in Teaching Resiliency to Law Students," American Association of Law Schools Annual Clinical Conference, Baltimore (May 2016).

"Children as Witnesses," 57th Annual Convention of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Hot Springs, Va. (April 2016).

"Discipline and Law Enforcement in the K-12 Context: Responses and Regulation," ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Education Committee Teleforum (March 2016).

"University of Richmond School of Law and its Clinical Technology Initiative," AALS 38th Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education (May 2015) (with Mary Kelly Tate).

"Collateral Consequences: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Client’s Future," Presentation at Richmond Bar Association 2014 Bench Bar Conference, Richmond, VA (Oct. 2014).

"Collateral Consequences: The Intersection of Criminal and Civil Law," Presentation at 2014 Annual Virginia Poverty Law Center/Statewide Legal Aid Conference, Portsmouth, VA (Oct. 2014).

"Tip of the Iceberg: Domestic Violence Inside & Outside of the Legal System," Moderator for Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association CLE panel, Richmond, VA (Oct. 2014).

"Human Trafficking: the Modern Slave Trade in Virginia," Moderator for Law over Lunch CLE panel at University of Richmond Downtown, Richmond, VA (May 2014).

"Introduction to Trial Practice Technology and iPads for Lawyers," Technology Bootcamp at the University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, VA (March 2014).

"Competency of Child Witnesses," Guest lecturer for Professor John Douglass's Evidence class at the University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va. (Oct. 2013).

"Representing a Juvenile Charged With a Sex Offense," Presentation at 2013 Annual Public Defender Conference, Hampton, Va. (Sept. 2013).

"Collateral Consequences of a Juvenile Conviction," Presentation at the 2013 Robert E. Shepherd Juvenile Law and Education Conference, Richmond, Va. (May 2013).

"Financial Exploitation and Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly," Presentation for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Chamberlayne 360 meeting, Richmond, Va. (May 2013).

"Introduction to Trial Practice Technology and iPads for Lawyers," Technology Bootcamp at the University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va. (April 2013).

Poster Presentation, "Chipping Away at Cognitive Bias: A Cross-Clinic Public-Private Approach to Domestic Violence," AALS National Conference on Clinical Legal Education, San Juan, Puerto Rico (April 2013).

"Clinical Programs at the University of Richmond School of Law," Presentation at the UR Law School Admitted Students Open House, Richmond, Va. (March 2013).

"An Introduction to the Juvenile Courts," Presentation for the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission Juvenile Certification Training, Richmond, Va. (March 2013).

"Evidence Based Prosecution: A Case Example," Presentation for the Virginia Attorney General’s Office "Got Evidence?" training for prosecutors, Roanoke, Va. (March 2013).

Bar Admissions
Professional Experience
Director of the Children's Defense Clinic, Clinical Professor of Law (2017-present)
University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va.
Director of the Children's Defense Clinic, Associate Clinical Professor of Law (2014-2017)
University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va.
Director of the Children's Defense Clinic, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law (2011-2014)
University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va.
Supervising Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court (2006-2011)
Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Richmond, Va.
Assistant Public Defender (2000-2005)
Richmond Public Defender's Office, Richmond, Va.
Law Clerk (1999-2000)
The Honorable James W. Benton, Jr., Judge, Virginia Court of Appeals, Richmond, Va.
Associate Director and Lobbyist (1992-1996)
American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Richmond, Va.
Teaching Assistant (1991-1992)
Cathedral Home for Children, Laramie, Wyo.
Executive Director (1989-1991)
Virginia Association to Abolish the Death Penalty, Richmond, Va.
Institutional Service

  • Member, President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention, 2017-2018.
  • Chair, Robert E. Shepherd, Jr. Juvenile Law and Education Conference, 2016-present; Co-Chair, 2011-2015.
  • Chair, Appointments Subcommittee on Clinical Programs, 2018-2019.
  • Member of University of Richmond Center for Civic Engagement Advisory Council, 2018-2021.
  • Member of University of Richmond Center for Civic Engagement Exploratory Committee on Incarceration, 2018-2019.
  • Member of Admissions Committee, 2012-2014 and 2015-present.
  • Member of Student Awards Committee, 2018-2019.
  • Member of Promotions and Tenure Committee, 2017-present.
  • Wise Person for University of Richmond Honor Court, 2015-present.
  • Bridge to Practice Fellowship Selection Committee, 2012-present.
  • Member of Technology Boot Camp for Law Students Planning Committee, 2012-present.
  • Chair, Strategic Planning Committee on Clinical Programs, 2016-2017.
  • Safe Zone member, 2011-present.
  • Community Based Learning Fellow, 2016-2017.
  • Member of Appointments Subcommittee on Clinical Programs, 2011-2015.  In the fall of 2013 and fall of 2014, helped screen and interview applicants for Director of the Intellectual Property and Transactional Law Clinic.
  • University of Richmond Committee on Committees, 2013-2015.
  • Advise dozens of students each year on criminal law and juvenile court practice, 2011-present.
  • Co-led the committee on data management software for the clinical programs, 2013-2014.
  • Volunteer judge for client counseling and negotiation, moot court, trial advocacy, national environmental negotiation and ADR competitions,  2011-present.
Community Service
  • Gubernatorial Appointee to Four-year Term on the Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, 2015-present.
  • Virginia Bar Association Appointee to the Commission on the Needs of Children, 2016-present. 
  • Chair and Presenter, Annual Robert E. Shepherd Juvenile Law and Education Conference, 2016-present. 
  • Secretary, AALS Committee on Children and the Law, 2017-present.
  • Co-Chair and Presenter, Annual Robert E. Shepherd Juvenile Law and Education Conference, 2011-present.
  • Planning Committee, Annual Virginia State Bar Advanced Indigent Defense Conference, 2015-present.
  • Advisory Committee Member, University of Richmond Center for Civic Engagement, 2018-present.
  • Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Certified National Trainer, July 2014-present.
  • Member of Jazz for Justice Planning Committee for the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, 2014-present. 
  • Legal and Courts Committee, Richmond Trauma-Informed Care Network, 2016-2017.
  • Oliver Hill Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court’s Juvenile Justice Collaborative, 2016-2017.
  • Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association (MRWBA) Board of Directors, 2012-2016. Member of Jazz for Justice Planning Committee for the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, 2014-present.
    • Co-Chair of the Public Service Committee, 2014-2016.  Hosted and organized annual pro bono service luncheon, published the Domestic Relations Pamphlet (DRP), and organized the annual Wine, Women and Worthy Cause event to fund the DRP.
    • Chair of the Awards Committee, 2013-2014.
    • Chair of the Legislative Committee, 2012-2013, Member 2013-2014.  Hosted and organized the annual legislative luncheon and prepared CLE materials for the occasion.  
    • MRWBA Mentor to multiple law students each year.
    • Member of Judicial Nominations Committee, 2014-2016.  Interview judicial candidates and vote on endorsements.
    • MRWBA Representative to the Richmond Bar Association Bench Bar Conference, 2013-2014 and 2015-2016.  
  • Steering Committee, RISE Coalition on Juvenile Justice Reform, 2015-2017.
  • Volunteer with Housing Opportunities Made Equal, 1992-1999 and 2014-present. Special Volunteer Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Richmond for two neglect fatality cases which resulted in jury trials,  2011-2014.
    • Legal Advisory Network Committee Member, 2014-present.
    • Testing volunteer, 1992-1999.
Juvenile Law and Practice in Virginia (5th ed., co-editor, w/Angela Ciolfi) (2018).

30 Tips for Excellence in Juvenile Defense, Virginia Champion, Winter 2018, at 12.

Annual Survey of Virginia Law (Section on Criminal Law and Procedure) 37 U. Rich. L. Rev. 2002.


An Introduction to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations CourtThe Disposition HearingDispositional AlternativesPost-Disposition Proceedings and AppealsPsychiatric Commitment of MinorsThe Comprehensive Services Ac, Petitions for Services, and Other Proceedings, in Juvenile Law and Practice in Virginia (author and co-author) (2018).

The Disposition Hearing, in Juvenile Law and Practice in Virginia, 4th Ed. (Co-editor) (2014).

Additional Publications

Understanding Your Domestic Relations Rights in Virginia, 2016-2017 (Metro Richmond Women's Bar Association) (2017).

Metropolitan Richmond Women's Bar Association's Domestic Relations Pamphlet (DRP) (2017).

Juvenile Justice Journal, co-editor (2016).

Juvenile Justice Update (Co-editor of and contributor to bi-monthly Civic Research Institute publication, New York, NY, January 2014-present).

In the News

Spotlight on the MRWBA's 2018 Women of Achievement Award winner (Richmond Free Press)
Fri., Jan. 11, 2019

Ruling in Beltway Sniper case could lead to other juvenile re-sentencings (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Fri., Jun. 29, 2018

A Portsmouth teen is standing trial as an adult. Can his mother join him at the defense table? (The Virginian-Pilot)
Mon., Apr. 9, 2018

Richmond region schools once again flagged for disparity in treatment of African-American students with disabilities (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Sat., Feb. 17, 2018

Mullin bill would allow pretrial appeals in juvenile cases (Daily Press)
Tue., Feb. 6, 2018

Teens sentenced to life without parole may have chance to walk free (ABC13 News Now)
Thu., Nov. 16, 2017

Inmates locked up for life as teens seek relief in Virginia (Los Angeles Times)
Mon., Jul. 31, 2017

'These are babies': Experts weigh in on implications of three children involved in Richmond-area shooting (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Sat., Jun. 10, 2017

Suspensions and identification of certain students in Chesterfield, Henrico, Richmond raise red flag for state (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Sun., Mar. 26, 2017

YWCA Richmond announces eight Outstanding Women honorees (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Tue., Jan. 17, 2017

In Virginia, juveniles sentenced to life without parole wait in limbo (WVTF Public Radio)
Fri., Oct. 21, 2016

'One of the worst': The school-to-prison pipeline in Richmond, Virginia (
Mon., Mar. 14, 2016

Making Juvenile Justice More Humane and Effective (with Sue Kennon)
Mon., Feb. 15, 2016

How kicking a trash can became criminal for a 6th-grader
Sat., Apr. 11, 2015

Law and disorder: From detention to detainment in Virginia (Reveal News Podcast)
Sat., Apr. 11, 2015

Virginia tops nation insending students to cops, courts: Where does your state rank? (The Center for Public Integrity)
Thu., Apr. 9, 2015

Castlewood teens accused of sexual assault likely to be tried as adults (Bristol Herald Courier)
Tue., Dec. 11, 2012

Stanley's bill to try more juveniles as adults rejected by Senate panel (The Roanoke Times)
Mon., Jan. 30, 2012

Bill to try more Va juveniles as adults rejected (San Francisco Chronicle, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and New England Cable News)
Mon., Jan. 30, 2012

J.D., University of Richmond School of Law 1999
B.A., Agnes Scott Women's College 1988
Contact Information
Clinic Room G5, Law School
(804) 289-8205
(804) 287-6489 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
Juvenile Delinquency and Child Development
Clinical Legal Education
Elder Law
Criminal Law