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Dr Rebecca Helm

Senior Lecturer in Law

Amory B341

Rebecca is a Senior Lecturer in Law, a Supervising Solicitor in the Law Clinic, and a UK Research and Innovation Fellow. She has a PhD in Law and Developmemtal Psychology and a Masters in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, a Masters in Law from Cornell University Law School, and a BA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford. She is a qualified solicitor in England and Wales and Attorney in New York state, USA. 

She completed her practical legal training at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in London, and also practiced law as a supervising attorney for the Cornell law school clinical programs.  She is part of a steering group at the University of Exeter co-ordinating the Immigration Clinic, a non-profit advice service for those in need of immigration advice. She aims to use her own research and the research of others to promote an evidence-based approach to adjudication, and to enhance access to justice. 

Rebecca conducts research using quantitative methodology and behavioral biology to examine and evaluate the operation of legal regulation in practice, and the extent to which legal regulation reflects modern scientific understanding. This has included examining the failure of legal regulation to address psychological and social pressures that can lead innocent defendants to admit guilt, the relationship between the regulation of compensated and uncompensated surrogacy and human rights, and the appropriate treatment of witness testimony in adjudication. She is also interested in the assessment of damages in cases of intangible injury, particularly as a result of neurological trauma, and is conducting work in this area with collaborators from Cornell University.

Her work has been published in both law and social science journals and books, including leading interdisciplinary peer-review journals such as Law and Human Behavior, and Psychology, Public Policy, and the Law. Her co-authored reports on surrogacy have been considered by legislatures in both New York, USA and Delhi, India.  Her work has been funded by UK Research and Innovation, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the American Psychology and Law Society.

2020 - 2021 Publications:

Helm, R. K. (Forthcoming). Evaluating Witness Testimony: Juror Knowledge, False Memory, and the Utility of Evidence-Based Directions. The International Journal of Evidence & Proof.

Helm, R. K. (2021). Cognition and Incentives in Plea Decisions: Categorical Differences in Outcomes as the Tipping Point for Innocent Defendants. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. 

Helm, R. K., Dehaghani, R., & Newman, D. (2021). Guilty Plea Decisions: Moving Beyond the Autonomy Myth. Modern Law Review. 

Helm, R. K. (2021). Guilty Pleas in Children: Legitimacy, Vulnerability, and the Need for Increased Protection. Journal of Law and Society, 48(2) 179.

Helm, R. K. (2021). The Anatomy of "Factual Error" Miscarriages of Justice in England and Wales: A Fifty-Year Review. Criminal Law Review, 5 351. 

Helm. R. K. (2021). Pleading Guilty Online: Enhanced Vulnerability and Access to Justice. Modern Law Review Forum.

Helm, R. K., & Nasu, H. (2021). Regulatory Responses to Fake News and Freedom of Expression: Normative and Empirical Evaluation. Human Rights Law Review, 21(2) 302.

Helm, R. K., Hans, V. P., Reyna, V. F. & Reed, K. (2020). Numeracy in the Jury Box: Numerical Ability, Meaningful Anchors, and Damage Award Decision Making. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 34(2) 434.

Research supervision

Dr. Helm welcomes approaches from prospective doctoral students in any of her research areas and is happy to discuss research proposals.

She currently supervises three PhD students: David Teague, Suzi Rockey, and Maddy Millar. For more information on her research group, see here:

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