UCL Faculty of Laws


Professor Michael Freeman remembers UCL Laws alumna Helen Reece

31 October 2016

We are all deeply saddened and shocked to learn of the death, the day after her 48th birthday, of Helen Reece

UCL Quad

She graduated with a First class LLB from UCL in 1990 and subsequently with a Masters from LSE, She was a lively student, never afraid to ask the probing question.

I still remember as if it were yesterday debating with her in her first year the concept and implications of recidivism. She spent time also as a sabbatical officer of the students’ union. It was no surprise that she opted for an academic career, and took teaching positions at UCL, Birkbeck and LSE.

At her death she was a Reader, clearly destined to become a Professor. Much of her research output was interdisciplinary, initially at the interface between law and science. She published a prize essay on this in the Modern Law Review. She was heavily involved in the first of the Laws’ colloquia, and both enthusiastic and proactive in ensuring that the colloquium resulted in two books: Law and Science and Science in Court.

The centre of gravity of her research after this was in family law. Her Current Legal Problems article challenging the paramountcy principle is a classic. It appears on every reading list. It has provoked a paradigm shift in thinking. It is one of those rare papers that cannot be ignored, even by those who reject its ideological standpoint.

Her most significant monograph Divorcing Responsibly was critically acclaimed, and her work on domestic violence demonstrated her analytical skills to the full. She was vibrant, bubbly and modest; an excellent teacher and a responsive colleague.

She leaves two young children, a partner and her father, a retired mathematics academic.

Michael Freeman is Emeritus Professor of English Law at UCL Laws.