Delaware-based Navient is a leader in the student loan servicing space. In fact, the company that spun off from Sallie Mae in 2014 now services the loans of millions of borrowers across the country. The volume can result in an active litigation portfolio, and although Navient employs about six thousand employees, a small-but-mighty team of litigators guides all major disputes.
Mark Raschess is one of those litigators. He manages a portion of the lawsuits threatened or filed against Navient and its affiliates, and runs point on determining appropriate responsive strategies. Often, that involves keeping matters in-house, and finding effective ways to resolve cases without having to hire counsel and incur the expense of protracted litigation. When that’s not possible, he engages outside firms and oversees their handling of suits, ensuring that matters proceed in a strategic and cost-effective manner.
Representing Navient in these matters is a big responsibility for any lawyer, especially one at the mid-stage of his career. Raschess, who has been practicing law since 2009, says it was experience with high-stakes litigation and mentors at big firms that prepared him for the role. “I’m lucky to have had people take a special interest in me throughout my career, and supportive senior attorneys make a huge difference in the life of a young lawyer,” he says.
Hard work came naturally to Raschess. His family fled the former Soviet Union when he was just six years old. They settled in Philadelphia and watching his immigrant parents navigate their new land made a lasting impact.
“Their work ethic—scratching and clawing for everything and ultimately advancing on merit, something not frequently possible where we were from—instilled an appreciation for the opportunities available to me in this country and a drive to excel,” he recalls. In college, Raschess majored in economics and accounting before enrolling at the University of Miami School of Law.
After starting his career with large Miami-area firms, Raschess returned to his hometown as an associate with a prominent Philadelphia firm, where he represented banks, student loan servicers, credit card companies, and other entities in the consumer finance space. Working for large law firms was invaluable as it allowed Raschess to obtain extensive litigation experience in both state and federal courts.
Largely running his own files, Raschess drafted motions and pleadings, responded to discovery, prepared witnesses for depositions and trials, took and defended depositions, and appeared before numerous courts and arbitral forums. These experiences allowed Raschess to develop strong relationships with many firm clients, including Navient, who eventually hired him for his first in-house role.
Nine years in private practice helped the litigator get himself ready to defend Navient against high-profile claims. Raschess’s mentors taught him how to strategize with all stakeholders, ask specific questions to elicit the right responses, determine the most opportune time to file motions, and the types of arguments that judges are most likely to find compelling. Those skills and knowledge help him today as he manages lawyers from outside firms and works to achieve Navient’s litigation objectives.
In addition to managing his own litigation portfolio, Raschess oversees a team of professionals supporting Navient’s bankruptcy and collections lines of business. Employing a collaborative approach, he works with his direct reports to reduce legal spend, minimize case cycle times, and drive favorable outcomes.
Raschess also helps advise the business on litigation trends to facilitate implementation of compliance procedures and is steadily becoming a go-to voice within Navient’s legal department. All the while, Raschess pushes himself to continue his professional growth. He advises others to do the same and not be afraid to ask questions, even those that seem to have “obvious” answers.
“One of an in-house litigator’s primary responsibilities is mitigating risk. In order to help guide the business in this area, you need to accumulate information, evaluate it, and—ultimately—disseminate it to the appropriate stakeholders. That’s much harder to do if you don’t have a complete picture of the risk points involved,” he says.
That strategy has brought Raschess far and will help him this year and beyond. Navient is navigating issues related to COVID-19, potential student loan forgiveness, the ever-changing legal landscape, and shifting economic conditions. Through it all, he stands ready to help mitigate risk, prioritize strategic goals, and deliver great outcomes at Navient.
“I enjoy working with Mark because he has both an attention to detail and a big picture approach to place any case within the broader frame of the company’s best interests.”
–Eric M. Hurwitz, Co-Chair, Financial Services Litigation