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Alumni of the Month

April 2014
Joseph M. Forgione, Esq.

Q & A:

What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
The most memorable class I took at Hofstra University was “Italian 2: Beginning Italian,” taught by Professor Maria Fixell.  This class was taught as part of the Hofstra in Venice program, which is a popular study abroad program offered by Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.  This experience was life-changing for me: it furnished me with the opportunity to learn many new and different things about a foreign culture, create lasting friendships with a number of Venetians that still remain very close to me, explore a number of breathtaking cities in Italy, and actively apply the course work being taught in the classroom to my experiences around Italy.  The classroom, by the way, was held at La Fondazione Levi, and it overlooked the Grand Canal in Venice.  I can still remember sitting in class early in the morning and glancing outside the window to watch the sun reflecting off this magnificent body of water … it was truly beautiful.  Aside from being a stirring and remarkably practical experience, the class also served as a springboard from which I really first discovered the fashion industry alive on the streets of Italy!

I must also say that I was very much influenced by the classes taught by Professor Thomas Vander Ven and offered by the Department of Sociology in Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  He was a remarkable teacher.  Professor Vander Ven helped me to refine my writing throughout my college years, and this very important skill continues to affect my law practice, as well as my ordinary life, in many positive ways.  Among the many valuable lessons he taught, I will always be grateful for the time and effort this man spent teaching me about the importance of expressing big ideas in small language.

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I participated in a number of legal internships during my time as a student at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, including kate spade LLC and Seven For All Mankind LLC, as well as a number of fashion and editorial internships, including one at Esquire magazine.  After those experiences, my first job in law was working as a legal assistant in the corporate legal department at Chanel, Inc.  The most valuable thing that I learned while working at Chanel was the importance of working as a team with the many different parties that participate in a successful brand protection program for a luxury fashion company, including in-house counsel, outside counsel, law enforcement officials and private investigators.  I worked with all of these parties and more in different capacities while at Chanel, and that experience helped me to better understand all of the different components that are necessary to achieve complete brand protection for clients in the fashion industry.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I am an attorney currently focusing my practice on trademark and copyright counseling for clients in the fashion industry, and I am licensed to conduct undercover ground and online investigations as a private investigator in New York.  I am also a member of the adjunct faculty at New York Law School, where I am serving as an adjunct professor of law and currently teaching a course in Fashion Law.

I was first exposed to the fashion industry while working as a fashion editorial intern at Esquire magazine during my time in law school.  Working at Esquire, though somewhat unorthodox for a law student, taught me how the business of fashion operated from a variety of different angles, and, ultimately, this led me to inquire about what role, if any, the law played in protecting fashion and fashion designs.  This curiosity led me to seek out attorneys who were actually practicing law in various capacities in the fashion industry and, eventually, to a legal internship working closely with the general counsel at kate spade LLC.  The internship at kate spade LLC exposed me to all aspects of running a successful brand protection program for a fashion brand, and it also afforded me the opportunity to participate in my first civil seizure of counterfeit merchandise from flea market vendors, which served as my inspiration to become a private investigator.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
I would advise current Hofstra students to begin actively thinking about their career paths and start accumulating relevant work experience aligned with their interests while still in college.  I would also suggest that students participate in a study abroad program while at Hofstra … preferably in Venice!  I learned so many different things about myself, and continue to do so, when traveling, and I highly recommend it.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Transformative.

What is the single most rewarding/exciting experience of your career thus far?
Without a doubt, the single most rewarding and exciting experience of my career took place when I was sworn in to the New York State Bar in front of my Father, my loving wife, and my two remarkable parents. Their unfailing love for me, along with years of unconditional support from my wonderful brother, sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law, has changed my view of what it truly means to be a man.

I will also never forget having my older brother participate as a legacy in my commencement exercises, hooding me before the law school community as I graduated from Cardozo with my LLM and JD degrees. He has been the source of great inspiration for me throughout of the course of my life and, in my view, the very standard of personal and professional greatness.

What attracted you to this area of law?
Intellectual property law in the fashion industry became attractive to me as I found this growing area of law exposed to both dynamic substantive legal issues that unfold with each passing day and also creative individuals seeking to protect the goodwill associated with their intellectual product.  It’s really a perfect blend of rigor and excitement that I think suits me well!

What is the biggest difference between teaching law and practicing law?
In my opinion, the biggest difference between teaching law and practicing law is that, oftentimes, the practice of law is not taught to students while they are learning the law.  These are really two very different concepts, as practicing law has its own expectations and codes.  Law school education frequently neglects to address the many nuances of law practice that students will inevitably encounter as practitioners, and this empty space becomes increasingly difficult for students to navigate after they graduate.  It can also have the effect of leading to great personal dissatisfaction for newly admitted attorneys who find themselves incapable of performing the public service that clients need them to perform.  Cumulatively, this outcome is neither healthy nor inspiring for both young lawyers and the legal industry at large.  My course taught at New York Law School attempts to bridge this gap not only by making students keenly aware of new legal issues affecting the fashion industry on the substantive side, but also by having them participate in a number of practical tasks to help them create meaningful relationships with successful law professionals working in the field of fashion law.  This exposure, I believe, helps law students explore what truly makes them happy and understand the practice of law in much more depth; ultimately, it makes them much better lawyers.

Joseph M. Forgione, Esq.

Joseph M. Forgione, Esq. (BA, ’01) is an attorney and the director of trademark enforcement at the Gioconda Law Group PLLC, a law firm in New York City that handles intellectual property litigation, investigations and enforcement for high-profile fashion companies. He currently focuses his practice on trademark and copyright counseling in the fashion industry and is admitted to practice law before the Bar of the State of New York and the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Joseph is also currently licensed by the New York Department of State Division of Licensing Services to conduct business as a licensed private investigator.

While at the firm, Joseph has worked on a variety of intellectual property-related matters for a number of prominent fashion companies, including Hermès of Paris Inc.; Burberry Limited (UK); Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.; Michael Kors L.L.C.; Stuart Weitzman IP, LLC; The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.; and Casio America Inc. Among other duties, he currently oversees a portion of the intellectual property enforcement work on the Internet for a number of fashion brands, including Tiffany & Co. Joseph came to the firm after years of working on intellectual property-related matters in the corporate legal department at Chanel Inc., and, prior to that, he interned at kate spade LLC, Seven For All Mankind LLC, and Time Inc. while he was a law student at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. His professional career in intellectual property law began as a law clerk in the legal department at HBO, and he was first exposed to the fashion industry while working as a fashion editorial intern at Esquire magazine.

As a member of the adjunct faculty at New York Law School, Joseph is serving his second year as an adjunct professor of law and teaching Fashion Law in the Intellectual Property Job Track Program at the Institute for Information Law and Policy. His course highlights the principal areas of fashion law with a focus on the legal issues currently affecting the fashion industry. Joseph also serves as the faculty advisor to both CaseClothesed, a student-run fashion law blog that is hosted by the Institute for Information Law and Policy, and the Fashion Law Committee for the Media, Entertainment, & Fashion Law Association at New York Law School.

In addition to holding both an LLM in intellectual property law, and a JD from Cardozo, Joseph is currently exploring academic opportunities at various law schools that offer an advanced research doctorate in law, or JSD (Doctor of Juridical Science). Joseph holds a BA, cum laude, with honors in sociology from Hofstra University and is also a member of the Omega Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.