First Students Enroll in New SJD Program at Miami Law

Students from Qatar and Canada are represented in a degree program for scholars and teachers of law.
First Students Enroll in New SJD Program at Miami Law
Joanna Harris and Shaikha Al-Muraikhi

With robust offerings in international law, the launch of an S.J.D. was a natural expansion of Miami Law’s Global and International Law Program.

The Doctor of Juridical Science inaugural class features two international students: Shaikha Al-Muraikhi and Joanna Harris. The degree is designed for scholars and teachers of law. It is often obtained by international attorneys pursuing academic or high-ranking governmental careers in their home countries. The program started in Fall 2022 under the direction of Professor Sergio Campos.

From Doha, Qatar, Al-Muraikhi is a lecturer of private law at Qatar University. She received her Master of Laws in intellectual property and technology law in 2020 from Washington University in St. Louis. She also interned at Squire Patton Boggs in Doha, assisting attorneys in preparing legal briefs, conducting legal research, and outlining precedents.

Al-Muraikhi says her passion for IP law developed during an introductory course that focused primarily on the IP laws of the State of Qatar. "During this course, I became curious about how IP is interwoven into the fabric of our daily lives and present in all that we do. I am constantly practicing IP law while running errands; I am often perusing the aisles of a grocery store, wondering if there is a 'likelihood of consumer confusion' between the different products. This fascination with the complexity and intricacy of IP law inspired me to pursue graduate degrees in this field.

"Moreover, working as a teaching assistant made clear to me that academia is the right career path for me. I do not say that lightly; I truly loved sharing and exchanging knowledge with young driven intellects as they would sometimes provoke my ideas and personal views, leading me to view topics in a way that I never had before. I even genuinely enjoyed grading their assignments. This was especially true when we were discussing a purely theoretical question, as it gave me the chance to see how each student uniquely viewed the situation," she said.

Al-Muraikhi plans to become an intellectual property professor at Qatar University and practice law in the same field.

Harris, of Richmond Hill, Ontario, received a Bachelor of Law from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, in 2005, an LL.M. specializing in family law from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, and, most recently, a certificate in family mediation from the School of Continuing Studies, York University, Toronto. She serves as legal counsel to the York Region Children's Aid Society in Newmarket, Ontario.

Harris is pursuing an SJD degree because of her long-standing interest in effective representation for children involved with the child protection system in Ontario, Canada. 

"Miami Law is an excellent choice for me because of the Miami Law Children and Youth Law Clinic, the outstanding professors with expertise in this area of law, as well Florida has a guardian ad litem program, which is unlike the Ontario system of representation for children and creates an interesting comparative review," said Harris. 

"I hope my research will compare the effectiveness of various models of representation for children involved with child protection in Ontario and Florida, contribute to improving advocacy for these vulnerable children in Ontario, and create further scholarly and practical discussions to improve the lives of children involved with child protection in Ontario, particularly those in foster care.  This SJD is an incredible opportunity to focus on this important area of the law and develop increasing child advocacy expertise," said Harris.

Targeted degree program

The SJD, the highest level of law degree, is an advanced research degree program designed for aspiring legal academics, members of the judiciary, and public policymakers. The mission of the SJD program is to produce graduates who are prepared to become leaders in international academic, judicial, and public service communities.

The program is only open to exceptionally well-qualified candidates who have already obtained an LL.M. degree or wish to begin their SJD studies with an LL.M. degree at Miami Law. Through the support and guidance of a faculty adviser, students in the SJD program are expected to develop, research, and complete a scholarly dissertation that will constitute an outstanding contribution to legal scholarship.

"The SJD degree program builds on the success of our other international graduate programs by providing opportunities for students to pursue advanced scholarship," said Sergio J. Campos, SJD director. "It further solidifies our reputation as a leader in international graduate education, and I am proud to serve as the program's first director."

Read more about the SJD Program