Alumni stories

Michael Pampalone III

Founder & Owner, Pampalone Law
UOW Exchange Student 2000

There’s not much surf in Indiana, nor in Louisiana, so the time he spent at the University of Wollongong has a special place in the life of Michael Pampalone.

I vividly recall morning swims at Fairy Meadow and afternoons on the duck pond lawn reading before class, being challenged in new and unexpected ways in the classroom and then having the lively discussions spill over into the Uni bar with the professor and my classmates,” Pampalone recalls.

So how did a Midwestern and Southern gentleman end up on the South Coast of NSW?

An amazing professor at Indiana University, Al Wertheim, who taught me in London and Bloomington, suggested that a semester at University of Wollongong would prove to be an invaluable experience … he was right, as usual,” Pampalone says.

I think a part of me never left Wollongong and that I have carried it with me every where that I have been since.” 

The time he spent at UOW in 2000 proved fundamental to Pampalone and his future career. He recently started his own law firm – Pampalone Law – in New York, and the savvy legal professional has been at the forefront of the fast-paced field of intellectual property law since graduating from Tulane law School with a Juris Doctor in 2004. 

However, Pampalone didn’t start his studies in law. In fact, at UOW and at Indiana University Bloomington, from which he graduated in 2001, he was an English and Political Science major with a passion for cultural studies and anthropology.

Michael Pampalone III
Michael Pampalone in Brooklyn, New York City.

I was strongly attracted to the curriculum relating to culture, politics and their interaction, as well as the natural beauty of the campus and Wollongong,” he said.

I have always had a great interest in perceiving culture, especially my own culture, from a different perspective and investigating the effects of culture, and changes in culture, on people across the globe.”

It wasn’t until he enrolled at Tulane Law School in Louisiana that Pampalone found a penchant for the law, and specifically for trademark and copyright law – a burgeoning area of practice in the era of the internet, social media and global networking.

I took a number of trademark, copyright, entertainment and unfair competition courses as I pursued my law degree,” he said.

I was initially attracted to how it [intellectual property law] permeates all fields and industries and was intrigued by the idea of protecting something of an intangible nature and the challenges and questions that presents.”

Pampalone went straight for the top when he graduated with his JD, securing a job with one of the most prestigious boutique firms in the area of trademark and copyright law, Colucci and Umans, in New York.

And it was here that Pampalone made his own mark by developing a practice encompassing all aspects of copyright, trademark, trade dress, trade secret, idea theft, dilution and unfair competition counselling and litigation and working directly with clients, such as Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Coach, Rhodia and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Starting my career at Colucci and Umans allowed me to enter the field at its very precipice and challenged me to practice at an extremely high level immediately and ever since,” he said.

After 10 years at Colucci and Umans, Pampalone decided it was time to challenge himself again and in June 2014 opened his own law firm in the heart of New York.

Starting a practice of my own is a challenge that I have long anticipated embracing and, inspired by my grandfather and my father, I determined that the ideal time for me to do so had arrived,” Pampalone said.

[I’m] working with talented, driven and visionary clients and creating a forward-thinking, flexible practice with a client-centric approach.”

It’s a brave step, especially in the area of law in which Pampalone has excelled. The constant changes in technologies, the ever increasing sphere of influence of social media, and the ease with which information can be obtained – legally or otherwise - combine to make IP, trademark and copyright law one of the most dynamic in the industry.

[The new frontier of IP], I think is here in that the capability to disseminate and access more information than could ever possibly be consumed has fundamentally altered the manner in which we interact with each other and our surroundings,” he said.  

With respect to copyright law, I believe the advent of the 3D printer will prove a sea-change in the way society functions and will force copyright law to evolve much faster than it has historically.”

Coincidentally, UOW was at the cutting edge of 3D printer technology, an irony not lost on Pampalone.

He may be based in one of the most dynamic cities in the world, but Pampalone says it was his time at UOW that helped him realise the benefits of expanding his worldview and challenging himself in ways he would not otherwise have if he had stayed in the US during his undergraduate studies.

I saw great benefit in being taken out of my comfort zone and placed in an environment of wonder and a kaleidoscope of perspective,” he said.

The view points, challenges, knowledge, beauty, life experiences and friendship that I was able to garner [at UOW] have proven invaluable.”

Maintaining those relationships and friendships, has been instrumental in helping Pampalone achieve his own success.

[I’d advise students to] develop and maintain relationships with professors, practitioners and knowledgeable business people that have lived and breathed the particular field in which they are interested in practicing.  While some individuals that you put your faith in will undoubtedly prove themselves grave disappointments, there will always remain those certain individuals that will provide support, insight, knowledge and counsel when you find you need it most,” he said.

I also believe that it is essential to have a passion for your chosen calling; otherwise it will prove very difficult to be great at it.”

Last reviewed: 4 June, 2015