Alumnus Mack Mayo may have initially chosen Charleston School of Law because of its proximity to the beach, but he turned out to be an ambitious student who has excelled in the legal field since graduating in 2010. His firm Piskel Yahne Kovarik PLLC in Spokane, Wash., recently announced that he represented parties in transactions totaling more than $65 million in 2020. He says getting to this point in his career has been a lesson in “figuring it out,” a lesson he credits the law school for teaching him.
“When I went to law school, I was absolutely clueless as to what type of law I wanted to practice — or if I wanted to practice at all,” says Mayo. “There was a long stretch of time where I thought I wanted to be an academic and only teach.”
He also had a fear of confrontation and knew he didn’t want to litigate. But then, through his experience clerking at five different law firms, taking a variety of classes, and serving as editor of the Charleston Law Review, he learned he was good at writing and good at standing on his feet and arguing. A career in the courtroom suddenly beckoned.
He credits Charleston Law founder and attorney Ed Westbrook with setting him on the path of being a class action lawyer. When Westbrook recommended co-counsel The Scott Law Group PS hire him in Spokane, Wash., Mayo grabbed the opportunity and was soon at work prosecuting highly complex plaintiff-side consumer class actions arising from financial crimes. He was also appointed by Federal and State courts as class counsel and even obtained unanimous Washington Supreme Court decisions in his clients’ favor. He also worked on an Innocent Project case that freed three wrongly convicted men and recovered significant damages from the state.
“For five years, I solely did sex abuse and class action litigation, mostly arising from financial crimes perpetrated during the Great Recession,” he says. “We wound up prosecuting around $175 million in damages on the civil side. It was extremely rewarding.”
He was eventually offered partner but decided to start his own practice. “Doing what, I had no idea,” he says. But it wasn’t long before he was representing businesses that he had previously sued and working with accredited investors and high net-worth individuals on various transactions.
In 2020, he merged his firm with Piskel Yahne Kovarik PLLC. He credits mentors like Westbrook and Professor Constance Anastopoulo with helping him find his way and providing lessons that stay with him to this day.
“Professor Anastopoulo was and is still one of my most important mentors,” he says. “She taught me the value of knowing your rules and preparation. When preparing for a motion (or for negotiations), I focus on how I can lose, not how I can win. The only cure for anxiety is preparation.”
He has also kept another lesson in mind: a transaction is a transaction, whether it’s $4,500 or $45 million. “You have an offer, acceptance, and consideration,” he says. “The value may differ but the fundamentals of contracting do not.”
Since his time at Charleston School of Law, Mayo has been selected as a Washington State Super Lawyer Rising Star, one of Washington’s best lawyers, and a Top Spokane lawyer for seven years in a row. He is a member the Washington Multifamily Housing Association and Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest. He previously served as a Trustee to the Spokane County Young Lawyer’s Board, Vice Chair to the Washington State Association for Justice’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Committee, and as a Member of the RE-START CPR Mentoring Program.
“Professor Anastopoulo always told me to focus on being a good lawyer and success will follow,” says Mayo. “I try to stay in the present and not spend too much time in the future. My long term goal is to simply provide my clients the best representation I can on a daily basis.”