Faizah Malik – Leadership Board Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I am in-house counsel at Single Stop USA, a national anti-poverty nonprofit and recipient of two White House Social Innovation Fund awards. Single Stop helps low-income Americans achieve economic security by facilitating and coordinating access to critical government benefits and cost-free financial counseling, tax preparation, and legal assistance.

I found out about Single Stop through my mentor who used to work here. I went to law school to be a civil rights lawyer, and in the course of my education, became interested in non-litigation methods for achieving social justice. I like transactional lawyering because I get to help communities and organizations build, instead of challenge, systems and institutions to further the cause of social justice. As in-house lawyer at Single Stop, I advise the nonprofit on all internal and external legal issues such as corporate governance, contracts, intellectual property, and employment. I find great fulfillment in knowing that I am helping Single Stop reach hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans every year.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

As in-house counsel, I am a generalist. The biggest challenge is working on so many different legal issues at once. I am constantly changing legal hats. For example, on any given day, I might be working on a lease, negotiating a grant agreement, and researching privacy laws.

What is your proudest achievement?

In my current role, my proudest achievement has been designing and implementing our grants management process. We negotiate several hundred contracts a year, and figuring out the best way to manage the process for drafting, negotiating, and executing those contracts was a big challenge. We are close to finalizing that process now, and I am happy I got to help drive the project.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

I am really inspired by social entrepreneurs, like Muhammad Yunus, who are working on new solutions to old social problems. I admire individuals who have the vision and guts to start their own organizations.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I still see myself working on social justice issues, but the role I see myself in is evolving. I could see myself as a policy advisor in government and also as an executive at a socially conscious business. Maybe both are possible?

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?

Yes! I wouldn't have gotten to where I am without mentors. My mentors have served as crucial career advisors and have connected me to people they think I should know. Because mentors have been so important to my career growth, I try to also be a mentor to younger lawyers and law students. It's important to me to keep paying it forward and that's why I joined CUP.

How has your participation on the Leadership Board impacted the way you approach your day-to-day role?

I am thinking more about the path of my career trajectory as a result of being on the LB for the past two years. It's been interesting to learn about the paths other LB members have taken and it's caused me to pause a few times and reflect on my own journey. I'm definitely thinking about long-term plans now.