Alaa Marghalani (LLM ’14) presents research paper at Academic and Business Research Institute Las Vegas 2015 Conference

Photo of Alaa Marghalani (LLM '14)

Alaa Marghalani

For doctoral students, the chance to share their work with a renowned group of peers —role models, even — is a longtime academic tradition. Alaa Marghalani (LLM ’14) of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, recently got such an opportunity. He’s a candidate in Wake Forest Law’s Scientiae Juridicae Doctor (SJD) degree program.

Marghalani presented his paper, “Toward an ombudsman for Saudi Arabia: A model aims to improve government services and goods,” as part of the Academic and Business Research Institute Las Vegas 2015 Conference held Oct. 15-17 at Harrah’s hotel and casino.

The mission of the AABRI, according to its website, is providing a quality research publication venue for academic authors whose primary focus is teaching.

“The Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies” will publish his paper, Marghalani says.

Marghalani, by all accounts, was the first student to present his work — a product of his master’s thesis — during an academic conference while pursuing an SJD degree at Wake Forest.

“It was an honor to present my paper and hear feedback and comments in order to complete my research and develop it,” said Marghalani, an assistant professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration in Saudi Arabia.

“(The Las Vegas conference) was a great opportunity to present in front of many researchers, scholars and professors and hear their comments. I learned many things related to many papers presented by other researchers and scholars at the conference. I will use their comments toward developing my research and evaluating their advice and comments to cover some points they mentioned to me.”

Professor Sidney Shapiro, Frank U. Fletcher chair of Administrative Law at Wake Forest, serves as Marghalani’s adviser. Shapiro, a leading expert in administrative procedure and regulatory policy, offered Marghalani guidance and encouragement throughout the writing process.

Shapiro learned some things, too.

“This is really fun,” Shapiro said of the SJD program, the highest post-graduate law degree offered by the law school, which admits only a few students each year.

“I’ve very much enjoyed working with Alaa. It provides a good opportunity to learn about another legal system, about the idea of administrative law reform and what ideas might be useful in his country.

“One of the common experiences of SJD students is that they participate in the larger life of academia, and that includes attending conferences, presenting papers and receiving feedback on ideas and their development.”

The SJD isn’t a course-oriented degree but is directed toward scholarly research and toward producing a dissertation that contributes to a respective area of law.

Marghalani’s paper, in his words, begins with a brief exploration of the connectional idea of an accountability network before exploring the concept of the ombudsmen, an office designed to help improve services and goods provided to the people, either by the government or via the private sector.

“One of the most important functions of the ombudsman is that he or she has the power to access the highest decision maker of their respective institution,” says Marghalani, who holds a bachelor of law degree from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“The ombudsman could generate substantial benefits in Saudi Arabia for both the government or private providers and the people by improving the efficiency of the services and goods that the providers offer.

“Additionally, this dissertation will offer a practical model of an ombudsman for the Institute of Public Administration in Saudi Arabia.”

Marghalani, after completing his SJD, plans to return to the Institute of Public Administration in Saudi Arabia. His wife, Rahaf Marghalani, is attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“Wake Forest University is a great destination in my life, and I am not going to forget every single moment here. I was able to expand my experiences and knowledge through my classes and by knowing many people. WFU has outstanding faculty staff and students. I am grateful that I am involved with them. I love being part of it and completing my education in a unique environment.”