As the son of immigrants, Sumit Mallick always yearned for a sense of belonging, and the comfort and confidence that come with it. As a lawyer, whether at the US Department of Justice or a large law firm, the circles in which he operated comprised individuals who looked different than he and had different backgrounds.
“I found myself struggling at times to find my footing and my voice,” Mallick recalls. Throughout his career, Mallick’s goal focused on easing that struggle for individuals from underrepresented groups currently practicing law and those destined to enter the profession.
Mallick joined Chime as assistant general counsel in June 2020 and manages lawyers on the company’s product and payments, litigation, employment, law enforcement response, regulatory, and privacy and security legal teams—about twenty-five legal professionals in total. Mallick also tackles special projects designed to develop and scale Chime’s lawyers, while finding better ways to support the team’s business partners.
On one of those projects Mallick and a team of Chime lawyers drafted the legal team’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. “We have an amazing team here at Chime that works to drive our DEI legal strategy,” says Mallick. The primary goal is to hold Chime’s legal team accountable to its DEI strategy, which is to hire and develop a diverse set of individuals, give back to the community through pro bono work, and hire outside firms mirroring the organization’s commitment to diversity.
To that end, the team identifies and recruits talented individuals from underrepresented groups and expands opportunities for underrepresented law students by partnering with the Diversity Lab, an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law. “I found that the ability to work in environments with lawyers from diverse backgrounds ultimately produces better legal advice and outcomes,” Mallick explains, adding such an environment eliminates blind spots by allowing for multiple perspectives.
For example, Mallick may review marketing materials and, based on his personal set of life experiences and biases, sign off on those materials. On the other hand, a lawyer with a different background may question the material and highlight additional areas of reputational or regulatory risk.
Outside of his day job at Chime, Mallick sits on the N-Gen board of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which pushes the legal profession toward change through scholarships, coaching, and the publication of industry data.
Since Mallick joined Chime, the San Francisco-based financial technology company has grown dramatically. Although not always a smooth ride, this growth has allowed him to onboard top-level talent with significant subject matter expertise. “[We can] provide more tailored, real-time, integrated advice to the business and our partners,” says Mallick. “That manifests itself in an increase in product launch velocity, and allows us to serve our members, what we call our consumers, better.”
As it continues to grow, Chime is examining its role in the community to ensure it’s making a positive impact and bringing financial peace of mind to underrepresented groups through pro bono work.
Mallick boils his professional philosophy down to three important strategies, which he imparts to those he mentors. First, he says, “Be kind.” At its core, the law profession is adversarial, but he says, “Being kind and empathetic has made my career more rewarding and has hopefully made me more effective.”
Secondly, he urges those he mentors to find their voice, which makes them more authentic and ultimately better lawyers. Lastly, he preaches patience. Although it’s wise and natural to seek the next promotion or career opportunity, he believes, individuals learn valuable lessons at every career step. “Focus on mastering those and the next opportunity will come, and ultimately you’ll be better prepared for it,” he says.
Mallick strives to make the law profession more diverse and inclusive and realizes there’s work still to be done. “My objective is not only to help do what I can to make the profession more diverse and inclusive, but also energize and help those passionate about this work find a way to make an impact and a difference,” he says.
Davis Wright Tremaine:
“Sumit has built a remarkable career spanning law firms, government, and FinTech. We’ve watched him assemble first-rate teams, lead with confidence, and promote diversity, all while moving fluidly from one challenging issue to the next.”
–Bradford Hardin, co-chair, Financial Services practice group
Jenner & Block:
“Sumit is a consummate leader. Thoughtful and generous, yet always focused on getting timely and solid results from outside counsel and his team. He is precisely the kind of client one hopes to work with.”
–Jeremy Creelan, Partner