John K.M. Ohnesorge

George Young and Bascom Professor of Law; Director for East Asian Legal Studies

John K.M. Ohnesorge

Room 9112, Law School

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B.A., St. Olaf College (1985)
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School (1989)
S.J.D., Harvard Law School (2002)


Professor Ohnesorge teaches Business Organizations and Administrative Law, as well as seminars in Compliance, Law and Development, and Chinese Law. He is the Director of the Law School's East Asian Legal Studies Center, Senior Advisor to the Graduate Program, founder and director of the Law School's Compliance Initiative, and former Chair of the Wisconsin China Initiative (2008-2012).  Among his many service roles, Professor Ohnesorge chaired the Law School's recent Strategic Planning Committee, the latest ABA Site Visit Committee, and has served on the Faculty Senate, the Law School's Academic Planning Council, Faculty Appointments Committee, Tenure and Promotions Committee, Chairs Committee, an ad hoc grading system revision committee, and chaired an ad hoc Legal Research and Writing program revision committee.

A native of Minneapolis, Professor Ohnesorge received his B.A. from St. Olaf College (English and Psychology, 1985), his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School (cum laude, 1989), and his S.J.D. from Harvard Law School (2002). He has spent several years in East Asia, as a teacher and law student in Shanghai in the 1980s, as a lawyer in private practice in Seoul in the 1990s, and as a visiting scholar at Seoul National University.  He will spend 2023 as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Yonsei University in Seoul.

During the course of his S.J.D. studies, Professor Ohnesorge spent a year as a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and Public International Law in Heidelberg, Germany, on a fellowship from Harvard's Center for European Studies. In 2000 he served as a lecturer at Harvard Law School, co-teaching with Professor William P. Alford. From 2000 to 2001 he clerked for Federal District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel (D. Mass), then joined the Law School in the fall of 2001.

Scholarship & Publications


Law Repository

Research Interests

  • Administrative Law, Politics and Compliance
  • Law and Economic Development
  • East Asian Legal System Development
  • International Economic Law
  • History of Legal Thought


  • In October 2019, John Ohnesorge presented "Comparing Impeachment Regimes: Law, Institutions and Politics" at Kenyon College's Center for the Study of American Democracy.

  • The 2019 Wisconsin Law Review Symposium, which was chaired by former UW Law Professor Andrew Coan, featured a number of UW Law faculty, including Anuj Desai, Howie Erlanger, Neil Komesar, John Ohnesorge, Asifa Quraishi-Landes, David Schwartz, Miriam Seifter and Rob Yablon. The symposium, titled "Rationing the Constitution: How Judicial Capacity Shapes Supreme Decision-Making,” was held Oct. 24 and 25.

  • John Ohnesorge presented his work, "Development is Not a Dinner Party: A Hurstian Perspective on Law and Growth in China," at a University of Michigan Law School conference held in October. The conference was titled "China's Legal System at 40 Years ⁠—Towards an Autonomous Legal System?"

  • John Ohnesorge participated in "Law as Technology," a workshop organized by Harvard Law School's Institute for Global Law & Policy (IGLP) in June. The workshop featured scholars from around the world discussing relationships between law and technology, past, present and future.

  • In June, John Ohnesorge presented his paper, "Comparing Impeachment Regimes," at the 14th Annual Comparative Law Work-In-Progress Workshop, co-hosted by the American Society of Comparative Law and the University of Illinois College of Law. The paper explores how comparative research into impeachment systems could be structured so as to take into account both legal and political factors.

  • John Ohnesorge's paper, "Comparing Impeachment Regimes," has been selected as one of the papers for discussion at the American Society of Comparative Law's 2019 Work-in-Progress workshop. The workshop is co-hosted by the University of Illinois College of Law, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

  • John Ohnesorge and the East Asian Legal Studies Center hosted Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc. Kind, who serves on the Trade Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, spoke with students and faculty about his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and prospects for its passage during the upcoming lame-duck session.

  • John Ohnesorge gave a presentation at the U.S.-China Economic Law Conference called “China's Industrial Policy and the Regulation of Foreign Investment.” The conference was jointly organized by University of Michigan Law School, University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, and the Wayne State University Law School.

  • John Ohnesorge was featured in a panel discussion entitled "Conflict in the West Sea: Reigniting the Korean War," organized by the UW Center for East Asian Studies.

  • In 2010, John Ohnesorge presented a paper at the annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History entitled "Administrative Law in East Asia." The paper is based on a book chapter, forthcoming in an edited volume on comparative administrative law. It is part of a larger research project in which Professor Ohnesorge explores the social, political and historical roots of national administrative law systems.

  • In 2010,John Ohnesorge participated in a conference entitled "Law and Development in the BRICS," hosted by the law faculty of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The conference focused on common issues of law and economic development among Brazil, Russia, India, and China - the so-called "BRIC" countries. Professor Ohnesorge was invited to discuss aspects of Brazil's regulation of foreign investment based upon the experiences of China and East Asia.

  • John Ohnesorge chaired the third annual meeting of the Leadership Board of the Wisconsin China Initiative. The China Initiative is a UW- and Wisconsin-wide initiative focussing on greater China (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Peoples Republic of China). The Leadership Board consists of UW alumni with China expertise in business, government and academe, who provide advice and guidance to the initiative.

  • In 2010, John Ohnesorge taught a seminar titled "Law and Development in Northeast Asia's Developmental States" as a visiting professor at the law school of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (Direito GV) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The seminar served policy makers, students and scholars in Brazil who increasingly are interested in learning about development policies in East Asia.

  • John Ohnesorge addressed a special session on the role of comparative law in Law & Development held as part of the XVIIIth International Congress of Comparative Law. The International Congress, organized jointly by the American Society of Comparative Law and the International Academy of Comparative Law, was hosted jointly by the law schools of Georgetown University, American University, and George Washington University, Washington D.C.

  • John Ohnesorge participated in a workshop at the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law, entitled "Responsive Rule of Law: Actors and Accountability."  The invitation-only event brought together key actors in legal development assistance efforts to discuss ways to improve the provision of such assistance.

Teaching Areas

  • Administrative Law
  • Business Organizations/Corporations
  • Comparative Law
  • Law & Development

Recently Taught Courses

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