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Dr Rebecca Helm


Amory B341

Rebecca is a Lecturer in Law and a Supervising Solicitor in the Law Clinic. 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.  

2018 - 2019 Publications:

Helm, R. K. (2019) Constrained Waiver of Trial Rights? Incentives to Plead Guilty and the Right to a Fair Trial. Journal of Law and Society, 46(3).

Helm, R. K. (in press). Plea Bargaining. In Oxford Bibliographies in Criminology. Ed. Beth M. Huebner. New York: Oxford University Press.

Helm, R. K. (2019). Conviction by consent? Vulnerability, autonomy, and conviction by guilty plea. The Journal of Criminal Law, 83(2), 161-172.

Helm, R. K., & Hans, V. P. (2019). Procedural roles: Professional judges, lay judges, and lay jurors. In Brown, D., Turner, J, & Weißer, B. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Criminal Process. 

Helm, R. K. (2018). Cognitive theory plea bargaining. Policy Insights from the Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 5(2), 195-201.

Helm, R. K., Reyna, V. F., Franz, A. A., Novick, R. Z., Dincin, S. & Cort, A. (2018). Limitations on the ability to negotiate justice: Attorney perspectives on guilt, innocence, and legal advice in the current plea system. Psychology, Crime and Law, 24(9), 915-934. 

Hans, V. P., Helm, R. K., & Reyna, V. F. (2018). From meaning to money: Translating injury into dollars. Law and Human Behavior, 42(2), 95-109.

Reyna, V. F., Helm, R. K., Shah, P. D., Turpin, A. G., & Govindgari, S. (2018). Brain activation covaries with reported criminal behavior when making risky choices: A Fuzzy-Trace Theory approach. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(7), 1094-1109. 

Helm, R. K., Royer, C. E., & Ceci, S. J. (2018). Forensic analysis of child interrogations and testimony. In Bowers, M. & Koen, W. (Eds.), History and Proper Use of Forensic Sciences.

Helm, R. K., Reyna, V. F., Franz, A. A., & Novick, R. Z. (2018). Too young to plead? Risk, rationality and plea bargaining's innocence problem in adolescents. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law24(2), 180-191. doi: 10.1037/law0000156.

Helm, R. K., McCormick, M. J., & Reyna, V. F. (2018). Expert decision making: A Fuzzy-Trace Theory perspective. In Ball, L. J. & Thompson, V. A. (Eds.), The International Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. New York, NY: Routledge. 

Helm, R. K., & Reyna, V. F. (2018). Cognitive and neurobiological aspects of Risk. In Raue, M., Lermer, E., & Streicher, B. (Eds.), Psychological Aspects of Risk and Risk Analysis: Theory, Models, and Applications. New York, NY: Springer. 

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 one PhD student whose work focuses on the exercise of control by the courts over investigatory bodies and prosecution authorities.

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