Spokane Journal of Business

Still-young Piskel Yahne Kovarik law firm grows up, gets larger

Piskel Yahne Kovarik now training next generation

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-Virginia Thomas
From left to right, Nick Kovarik, Ryan Yahne, and Jason Piskel remain the only three partners in the firm they founded in 2012. The firm now has five associates as well.

They’re not 30-somethings anymore, but the principals of Spokane law firm Piskel Yahne Kovarik PLLC say their approach has remained largely the same as it was seven years ago when they started the firm--and it’s paid off. 

Jason Piskel, Ryan Yahne, and Nick Kovarik founded the firm in 2012. At the time, all three were in their mid-30s, and the firm had just one staff member.

Now, the three are in their 40s, and Piskel Yahne Kovarik PLLC has five associate attorneys in addition to the three principals, as well as six staff members. The firm ranked No. 22 on the Journal’s list of largest law firms in March.

The firm moved to a different floor of the Fidelity Building, at 522 W. Riverside, about two years ago; it now occupies 4,500 square feet on the seventh floor, more than double its previous space. 

“As far as the three of us, not so much has changed,” Yahne says. “We still enjoy working with each other.”

The firm specializes in construction, real estate, commercial, and employment litigation. Yahne says businesses make up about 70% of clientele.

The principals declined to reveal the firm’s annual revenue, but say it’s been increasing steadily. 

The partners’ approach to clients hasn’t changed, Kovarik says, but rather has solidified. The three attorneys don’t always seek to bring a case before a judge; they say they often work to resolve issues without lengthy court battles. 

“We started this law firm with the idea of being able to solve clients’ problems in the most efficient way possible, as opposed to plugging them into a litigation cycle where they’re paying a bunch of money and not going anywhere,” Kovarik says. 

The partners are more interested in building clientele through repeat business than through attracting new clients. 

“Over the last seven years, that model has really proved itself to be a good way to do business,” Kovarik says. 

Yahne adds, “Our practice isn’t really cookie-cutter. We pride ourselves on being able to tackle those problems that are new and complex.”

All three were familiar with Spokane before establishing the firm: Piskel and Kovarik met as students at Gonzaga University School of Law, while Yahne grew up here and returned after completing his law degree at Pepperdine University School of Law, in Malibu, California. 

What has surprised them, they say, is just how important relationships are, especially in a place like Spokane. 

“In our line of work, we knew developing a strong relationship of trust with our clients was important, but it’s been the most important thing in our growth and success,” Yahne says. “Particularly in this town: it’s small enough that a lot of people know everybody.” 

Focusing on the quality of service they provide to existing clients, rather than on gaining new clients or expanding areas of practice, has been a successful method for Piskel Yahne Kovarik: the firm’s attorneys regularly have to turn down potential clients, Piskel says, because there simply aren’t enough attorneys to serve all requests. 

The principals say they are now involved in training future generations of attorneys to view their practices in the same way -- they’ve added two new lawyers in the past 12 months and plan to add more. 

“Ingraining that belief and way of tackling problems is something new that we’re learning how to do,” Yahne says. “We have great associate attorneys here that we’re hopefully teaching the right way to practice.”

Finding attorneys who fit the firm’s philosophy can be challenging, Yahne says, but the unified vision of the three principals helps to guide the process of hiring new attorneys. 

“It’s easier to do when the three of us agree on the model and the process and the belief that we’re here to solve problems the best way we can, whether that’s aggressive litigation or some other approach,” Yahne says. 

A steady economy has helped propel the firm’s growth, Yahne says. An economic downturn would affect some clients, but the principals say it’s unclear how it could affect the firm itself. 

“Our clients are responding to the economy, so when the economy changes, it could result in either more litigation, because things have gotten tighter, or the inability to afford litigation,” Piskel says. “The problem still exists; whether they walk away from it or they fight it becomes, oftentimes, the hardest question to answer.”

Regardless of economic dynamics, Kovarik says the partners will continue to focus on building a solid reputation through serving clients. He asserts that the principals’ recent recognition as 2019 Super Lawyers by Super Lawyers magazine is proof of how the Spokane community regards the three attorneys. 

“When you have a good reputation and great credibility, you’re going to receive respect not only from the other lawyers in the community, but the clients and the judges,” Kovarik says. “That (recognition) shows me we’ve maintained a solid reputation and continue to maintain a solid reputation. The credibility comes in spades after that.”

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the banking and finance industries. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys travelling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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