Academics

Law professor takes lead role in Department of Justice

February 21, 2018

Caren Harp, who served the past six years at Liberty University School of Law as an associate professor, was sworn in as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the Department of Justice in January. Harp was appointed to the position by President Donald J. Trump in December, while she was still teaching at Liberty.

Harp brings nearly three decades of experience to the office. She currently serves on the ABA Juvenile Justice Standards Task Force and the National Steering Committee for the Vision 21 Project at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Harp is a former director of the National Juvenile Justice Prosecution Center at the American Prosecutors Research Institute and has been chief deputy prosecuting attorney in El Dorado, Ark., chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department, managing public defender for the 13th Judicial District in Arkansas, and a trial attorney in the Capital Conflicts Unit of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission.

At Liberty, Harp taught courses on children and the law, evidence, professional responsibility, and lawyering skills. She holds her J.D. from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville and has dedicated many years of her professional career to improving outcomes for youth in the legal system and training attorneys to advance courtroom practice.

“My new role is a culmination of all the ways my life path has prepared me for this,” Harp said. “It seems like everything has come together.”

Having worked as a prosecutor and a defender, she believes she can bring a broad perspective from both sides of the courtroom.

“It gives me a balanced look at things,” she said.

She also hopes to bring creativity in solving problems. Having come from a rural district, she said, she learned to be creative with resources that were more limited than in larger, urban operations.

In her career, Harp has maintained working relationships with many professionals across the country.

“I hope to be able to bring all of their wisdom and good advice and good innovations to bear on any work that we do,” she said.

Harp said leaving Liberty is difficult, but she is willing to return after her tenure in the nation’s capital.

“These students are so precious, and I am so inspired by their passion,” she said. “They have a desire to serve and to advocate for people who cannot help themselves. They just energize me every day, so I will be missing that wonderful energy I get from them. It is such a privilege to try to shepherd them into the profession; they give me hope … I will miss working with them every day.”

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