Rebecca is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Exeter and a Supervising Solicitor in the University of Exeter Immigration Law Clinic. She has a PhD in Psychology and Law from Cornell University, a Masters in Law and a Masters in Psychology from Cornell University, 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 cognitive psychology 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.
P. Hans, R. K. Helm, and V. F. Reyna. “From Meaning to Money: Translating Injury into Dollars.” Law and Human Behavior (In Press, 2018).
R. K. Helm, V. F. Reyna, A. A. Franz, and R. Z. Novick. “Too Young to Plead? Risk, Rationality, and Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem in Adolescents.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (2018). DOI.
R. K. Helm, V. F. Reyna, A. A. Franz, R. Z. Novick, S. Dincin, and A. E. Cort. “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 (2018).
R. K. Helm, C. E. Royer, and S. J. Ceci. “Forensic analysis of child interrogations and testimony.” In History and Proper Use of Forensic Sciences, edited by M. Bowers and W. Koen (2018).
R. K. Helm and V. F. Reyna. “Logical but Incompetent Plea Decisions: a New Approach to Plea Bargaining Grounded in Cognitive Theory.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 3, no. 3 (2017): 367–380. DOI.
R. K. Helm, V. P. Hans, and V. F. Reyna. “Trial by Numbers.” Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 27 (2017): 107–107.
R. K. Helm, A. J. Wistrich, and J. J. Rachlinski. “Are Arbitrators Human?” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 13, no. 4 (2016): 666–692. DOI.
Select Conference Appearances
“Conviction by consent? Guilty pleas, vulnerability, and access to justice,” Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Bristol, UK, 2018.
“Too young to plead?” with V. F. Reyna, American Psychology and Law Society Annual Meeting, Memphis, Tennessee, 2018.
“Numbers in the jury box,” with V. F. Reyna and V. P. Hans, American Psychology and Law Society Annual Meeting, Memphis, Tennessee, 2018.
“The relationship between sex selection and child marriage in India,” with S. Kalantry, 2017 Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, Ithaca, New York, 2017.
“Covariations of brain activation with criminal behaviors,” with V. F. Reyna, R. B. Weldon, P. D. Shah, and A. Turpin, 6th Annual Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2016.
“Motivated conceptions of the insanity defence,” with S. J. Ceci, Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2016.
Select Media Appearances
S. Kalantry and R. Helm, “Repeal NY surrogacy ban to reflect rest of the country,” Times Union Albany, 14 September 2017.