Mark Sidel

Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law

Sidel, Mark

Room 6104, Law School

PDF Icon Curriculum Vitae


AB (History), Princeton University
MA (History), Yale University
JD, Columbia Law School


Mark Sidel is Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also serves as consultant for Asia at the Washington-based International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), focusing on China, India and Vietnam. In 2021-22 Sidel is serving as visiting professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and Cardozo Law School in New York and as affiliated scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School and the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at City University of New York, Baruch College.

In 2016 and 2017 Sidel served as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Visiting Chair in Community Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University; in spring 2018 as Ian Potter Foundation Fellow at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies in Brisbane; and in February-March 2020 as visiting scholar at the University of Western Australia Law School in Perth. 

In addition to his academic work, Sidel has served as president of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), the international academic association working to strengthen research on civil society, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector; on the Council on Foundations Community Foundations National Standards Board, the national accrediting and standard setting body for American community foundations and trusts based at the U.S. Council on Foundations; and on the boards of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT).

Advising and consulting assignments have included Indevelop/SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, on human rights programs in China); DANIDA (Danish Development Cooperation Agency, on human rights and legal reform programs in Vietnam); the Ford Foundation (on legal reform programs in China); the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (on human rights and legal reform programming in China and Vietnam); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (on philanthropic law and policy in China); and other international and donor organizations. Over the past several years he has assisted a wide range of US and other organizations with issues under the Chinese Overseas NGO Law.

Professor Sidel has served as Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Melbourne Law School, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po, in the chaire Asie), Victoria, Vermont, Miami and Denver law schools and other institutions, and as W. G. Hart Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. In 2008 he won the ICNL-Cordaid Civil Liberties Prize for his work on the impact of anti-terrorism law on civil society in comparative perspective, and in 2012 he was named to the Outstanding Academic Award by the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association, Business Law Section. He is a graduate of Princeton University (A.B. in history, 1979), Yale University (M.A. in history, 1982), and Columbia Law School (J.D., 1985).

Professor Sidel's research and writing focus on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy (with a focus on Asia and the United States); modern secessionary movements; and constitutional law in China and Vietnam.

In addition to scholarly and policy articles, his books include:

  • Regulatory Waves: Comparative Perspectives on State Regulation and Self-Regulation in the Nonprofit Sector (Cambridge University Press, 2017, ed. with Oonagh Breen and Alison Dunn)
  • Central-Local Relations in Asian Constitutional Systems (Hart Publishing, 2015, ed. with Andrew Harding)
  • State, Society and the Market in Contemporary Vietnam: Property, Power and Values (Routledge 2012; paper ed. 2015, ed. with Hue-Tam Ho Tai) 
  • Regulation of the Voluntary Sector: Freedom and Security in an Age of Uncertainty (Routledge 2010)
  • The Constitution of Vietnam: A Contextual Analysis (Hart 2009)
  • Law and Society in Vietnam (Cambridge University Press 2008)
  • Cinema, Law, and the State in Asia (Palgrave MacMillan 2007, ed. with Corey Creekmur)
  • Vietnam's New Order: International Perspectives on the State and Reform (Palgrave Macmillan 2006, ed. with Stephanie Balme)
  • More Secure, Less Free? Antiterrorism Policy and Civil Liberties after September 11 (University of Michigan Press 2004, updated 2nd ed. 2007)
  • Philanthropy and Law in South Asia (APPC 2004, ed. with Iftekhar Zaman, updated ed. 2007)
  • Old Hanoi (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Sidel's work has also appeared in Nonprofit Policy ForumAlliance,, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Michigan Law Review, Voluntas, Third Sector ReviewAlliance, Michigan Journal of International Law, Pittsburgh Law Review, Texas International Law Journal, Tulane Law Review, Charity Law and Practice Review, UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, UC Davis Law Review, Chicago-Kent Law ReviewChina Quarterly, Asian Survey, SAIS Review, Signs, and other academic and professional journals, as well as in edited volumes.

Sidel has extensive experience in international philanthropic and funding communities. He first served on the Ford Foundation team that established the Foundation's office in China and as the Foundation's first program officer for law, legal reform, and nonprofit organizations based in China (Beijing) in the late 1980s. In the early and mid-1990s, he developed and managed the Ford Foundation's programs in Vietnam. Later he developed and managed the regional program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector for the Ford Foundation in South Asia (New Delhi). Sidel also served on the Ford Foundation's Endowment Working Group and as a drafter of the Foundation's endowment handbook. 

Before coming to Wisconsin, Sidel served as Professor of Law, Lauridsen Family Fellow, and Faculty Scholar at the University of Iowa. He currently serves on the boards of Asia Catalyst (US), The Rights Practice (US), and the ACLU of Wisconsin, and is a member of the editorial or editorial advisory boards of the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly; Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations; Third Sector Review (Australia); USALI Perspectives (US-Asia Law Institute, NYU); Asian Journal of Law and Society; and the Australian Journal of Asian Law (Melbourne).

Professor Sidel served earlier as litigative consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice in the largest prosecution of slavery, human trafficking and involuntary servitude since the Civil War, a criminal case involving the servitude of several hundred Vietnamese and Chinese women garment workers (U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee et al), and has served as a consultant to the U.S. State Department on human trafficking and labor law issues. He serves frequently as an appointed expert for British firms and courts in human trafficking cases from Vietnam and China.

Sidel practiced law with Baker & McKenzie in New York, Beijing and Hong Kong and is a non-active member of the New York bar. He speaks and reads Chinese and reads Vietnamese.

Updated August 2021


Scholarship & Publications


Law Repository

Research Interests

  • Nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the United States, China, India, Vietnam and in comparative perspective
  • Civil society and the law in Asia
  • Comparative constitutionalism, particularly in China, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia
  • Human trafficking


  • Mark Sidel contributed to "What Future for International NGOs in China?," a ChinaFile Conversation, published Nov. 24, 2021. Read the article

  • Mark Sidel wrote a commentary for the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU on what five years of China's Overseas NGO Law framework has meant for nonprofits seeking to operate in China and the constraints it has put on Chinese academic institutions. Read the commentary

  • Mark Sidel presented on new developments in governmental restrictions on funding by and ties to overseas NGOs and foundations in China and India for the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) virtually on Oct. 8, 2021.

  • Mark Sidel presented on "The Future of Overseas NGOs in China" during a webinar hosted by the U.S.-Asia Law Institute on Oct. 13, 2021.

  • Mark Sidel spoke on "Disciplining Altruism: The Rise of Regulatory Restraints on Volunteering in Asia," at a conference on comparative aspects of volunteering law and policy convened by the Manchester China Institute at the University of Manchester in June. His policy brief on these issues, focused on China, the Phillippines and Vietnam, is being published by the conference organizers. 

  • Mark Sidel's analysis of the new Hong Kong National Security Law, "Climate of Fear: Reckoning with Hong Kong’s National Security Law and its Impact on Civic Freedoms," was published by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). Sidel co-wrote the article with colleagues at the ICNL.

  • In October and November 2019, Mark Sidel presented on Chinese nonprofit regulation and self-regulation at a conference on Chinese law at the University of Michigan; on the history of the Ford Foundation's activities in south Vietnam at a conference at the University of Oregon; on Chinese regulation of overseas NGOs, foundations and think tanks at a workshop organized by the US State Department in Washington; and on nonprofit research on a panel at UW-Madison's School of Human Ecology.

  • Mark Sidel's report, "Nonprofit Legal Reform in India" (PDF), was published by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). The report is part of an ICNL project with several Indian institutions. Sidel is a consultant on Asia for ICNL.

  • Mark Sidel spoke on philanthropy, civil society and labor issues in China at several institutions this spring, including the Brookings Institution, University of Toronto, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, the Blumbergs International Philanthropy Conference in Toronto, and the Association for Asian Studies.

  • Mark Sidel spoke at NYU Law School and at the National Committee on US-China Relations on the initial two years of implementation and enforcement under the Overseas NGO Law of the People's Republic of China and the impact on overseas NGOs and foundations.

  • Mark Sidel recently presented on Chinese regulation of foreign and domestic philanthropy and civil society to the following institutions and groups: Harvard Law School's East Asian Legal Studies program; the University of Pennsylvania/Global Philanthropy program; a gathering of German civil society specialists in Berlin; a faculty workshop at Chicago-Kent Law School; a webinar sponsored by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA); the Bush School of Government and Public Policy at Texas A+M University; the ARNOVA annual meetings in Austin; and  a conference on China at the Free University of Berlin (Germany). He also presented on human trafficking in and from Vietnam to a public program at UW-Milwaukee at Washington County.

Teaching Areas

  • Comparative Law
  • Contracts
  • Human Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude
  • Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations
  • Torts

Recently Taught Courses

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