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Dr Helen Rutherford

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria Law School

I am a qualified solicitor. I graduated from Newcastle University in 1989 with an LL.B (hons) degree and then completed the Law Society Finals at the College of Law in York. I have an MA in history and a PhD in legal history from Newcastle University. 

I trained as a solicitor with Hay and Kilner, in Newcastle, and on qualification worked in the litigation department handling both claimant and defendant personal injury and clinical negligence cases. After six years I moved to Crutes Law Firm (now DWF) where I conducted defendant personal injury and clinical negligence litigation on behalf of major insurance companies and the NHSLA (NHS Resolution).

I joined the University in 2012. I have a PGCE and I am a Qualified Teacher, a qualified coach, a Fellow of the Society for Education and Training, and a Fellow of the HEA. I am Programme Leader for the Law Foundation Year. I teach Civil Litigation, Legal History, and Inquests on the MLaw and LLB degrees. In previous years I managed civil firms in the Student Law Office and taught English Legal System, Tort, and Trials of Dissenters. I supervise final year archival/legal history projects.


Helen Rutherford

Campus Address

CCE 313

My main research is in the field of Legal History. My specific research passion is nineteenth century coroners and inquests. I also research nineteenth century lives, trials, and punishment- with a focus on the North East of England. I am interested in legal biography, images of the law, the use of digital newspapers for research, and microhistorical inquiry.

My Phd is titled: The Coroner in an Emerging Industrial Society: John Theodore Hoyle and Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885. 

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Courting Power: discussion and analysis of a courtroom-based art installation informed by a legal historical case study, Latchem, J., Rutherford, H. 2021, In: Law and Humanities
  • English Legal System [5th edition], Rutherford, H., Kotecha, B., Macfarlane, A. 17 May 2022
  • Execution Culture in Nineteenth Century Britain: From Public Spectacle to Hidden Ritual, Low, P., Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 30 Nov 2020
  • “13 yards off the big gate and 37 yards up the West Walls”: Crime scene investigation in mid-nineteenth century Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 23 Dec 2019, Crime and the Construction of Forensic Objectivity from 1850, Palgrave Macmillan
  • The Coroner in an Emerging Industrial Society: John Theodore Hoyle and Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885, Rutherford, H. Apr 2021
  • Subversive legal history: a manifesto for the future of legal education: by Russell Sandberg, Routledge, 2021, 242 pp., £120 (hardback), £33.29 (ebook), Abingdon (hardback), ISBN 9780367191290 (ebook), ISBN 9780429200618, Rutherford, H. 2 Oct 2022, In: The Law Teacher
  • Law, Judges and Visual Culture by Leslie J Moran. Abingdon: Routledge, 2020, 260 pp (£120 hardback; £33.29 e book) ISBN: 978-1-13-861861-9, Rutherford, H. 1 Sep 2022, In: Legal Studies
  • 'All That They Had Heard, All That They Had Seen': Questions of Fairness and Justice in the Trial of George Vass, Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 12 Nov 2020, Fair and Unfair Trials in the British Isles, 1800-1940: , London, Bloomsbury Academic
  • Advice for new law students, Kotecha, B., Rutherford, H. 1 Oct 2020
  • The Newcastle Gaol Project, Rutherford, H. May 2021

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Through a Legal Lens: Law, History and Visual Culture 2022
  • Invited talk: 'The Greatest Man in Newcastle': John Theodore Hoyle, Coroner 1857 -1885 2022
  • Oral presentation: The Ghosts of Newcastle Gaol: Visualising a Lost Victorian Prison 2022
  • Invited talk: The Ghosts of Newcastle Gaol: Visualising a Lost Victorian Prison 2022
  • Other: Exhibition- The Life and Death of Newcastle Gaol 1822-2022 2022
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Through A Legal Lens: Law, History and Visual Culture 2022
  • Invited talk: The Coroner and the Medical Profession in Victorian Newcastle upon Tyne 2022
  • Invited talk: Crime Scene Investigation in Mid- Nineteenth Century Newcastle 2022
  • Invited talk: ‘The People’s Judge’: Examining the Life and Work of the Coroner for Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885 2021
  • Oral presentation: ‘A Great Amount of Curiosity in his Composition’ Portraits of a Borough Coroner. 2021

Gustavo Romano-Jackson Individual inefficiencies and collective losses: how companies are preparing an ageing population for retirement and post-retirement careers, and how laws can distribute and mitigate costs Start Date: 06/05/2021

I am an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; a member of the Seldon Society, the Society of Legal Scholars, the Social History Society, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, the British Association for Victorian Studies and Newcastle upon Tyne Law Society.

I am co-convenor of the Law and Humanities Research Interest Group.

I carried out research for the TwentyTwenty/BBC TV programme A House Through Time for both the Newcastle and the Leeds episodes.

I have been an external moderator for a University Access course and I am an external examiner at the University of Westminster and York St John University.

I co-convened the International Seminar Series (organised jointly with the Max Planck Institute for Legal History, Leeds Beckett University and York University- supported by the SLS) Through a Legal Lens- Law, History and Visual Culture. 26 May to 23 June 2022.  Full details: Through a Legal Lens

I am a researcher for the Newcastle Gaol Project (led by Dr Shane McCorristine of Newcastle University). The project includes a website, a public exhibition (7 June -31 July 2022 in Newcastle City Library) and public lectures.

  • Law PhD
  • History MA
  • Law DipHE
  • LLB (Hons)
  • Associate Fellow Royal Historical Association
  • Fellow Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Fellow Society for Education and Training (FSET)
  • Qualified Teacher Learning & Skills (QTLS)
  • Solicitor (Non-Practising) Roll of Solicitors

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