Mark Burnette was raised in the southeastern part of West Virginia. The second of five children, Mark graduated from Greenbrier East High School in 1982. Unable to afford college or find a job, Mark joined the U.S. Army at age 17. He served four years on active duty, attaining the rank of sergeant and serving overseas twice in Europe and Asia. Although Mark very much enjoyed the Army and was tempted to re-enlist, he ultimately decided to be the first member of his family to ever attend college.
Mark enrolled at West Virginia University as a 21-year-old freshman for the fall semester of 1986, and he graduated just two and a half years later in December 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Mark graduated with highest honors – first in his class, and he paid for his education entirely by himself with the Army College Fund and a job as a maintenance helper in a federal building in Morgantown. None of this would have happened without the discipline and drive that he learned in the Army.
Mark is and has always been an idealist, and he believes that government can change people’s lives, for better or worse. Mark began thinking about a career in government during his last semester at WVU, and he thought a law degree would be helpful in this endeavor. With his last fifty bucks, he applied to what he believed was the best law school in the world, and then he left Morgantown for Atlanta to find work.
In April 1989, Mark was unloading trucks for UPS in Atlanta when he received a response to his law school application that began with the sentence “It gives me great pleasure to report that your application for admission to the Harvard Law School has been accepted.” Mark had been admitted to the Harvard Law School Class of 1992 – a stunning occurrence for someone who couldn’t find a minimum-wage job less than seven years prior. Mark did graduate from Harvard Law School in 1992, and he returned to Harvard many years later to earn a Master degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Mark earned his education against long odds through hard work, perseverance, determination and an indomitable, “never quit” attitude – traits that were largely taught and reinforced by the U.S. Army. These same traits have helped him become an exceptional lawyer who routinely prevails in difficult cases against powerful opponents.
Mark focuses his law practice on working for individuals, their families and small businesses. He focuses on litigation of all kinds and bankruptcy, but he maintains a broad, general practice to serve the legal needs of his clients.
Mark and his wonderful wife, Kelsey, have been married for 19 years. They have three sons – Jack, Sam and Ben – and make their home in Florida. But of course Mark takes every opportunity to return to the place that is and always will be his home – West Virginia.