Pallesen came to Nebraska with his parents in 1939, grew up here, and attended school in Neligh and Ainsworth. After obtaining his JD at the University of Nebraska School of Law in 1962, and an LLM at George Washington University in 1965, at the end of his military service, Pallesen returned to Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife. He entered into a 40-year career as a partner in the law firm Cline Williams Wright Johnson and Oldfather, L.L.P., as a specialist in business and health care law. He served as counsel to many of the region's most important organizations, including the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, The Nebraska Medical Association, The Nebraska Hospital Association, Doane College, the Governors Wind Energy Coalition, State Federal Savings and Loan, and American Charter Federal Savings and Loan.
Pallesen served on many public boards and on the boards of many civic organizations. He was very active in the state's Democratic Party, serving as Chairman, Finance Committee Chair and Counsel to the campaigns of Governor and U.S. Senator Jim Exon, and later as an adviser to both Senator Bob Kerrey and Senator Ben Nelson. He served in some capacity on the Nebraska campaigns of every Democratic Party Presidential nominee from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama.
Pallesen is the co-author, along with his friend Judge Samuel Van Pelt, of Big Jim Exon: A Political Biography (2013) an inside look at Nebraska politics and Nebraska political figures in the last half of the 20th century.