On May 27, 2021, FIGS achieved a historic milestone: it became the first company to go public led by two female cofounders. The online retailer of healthcare apparel not only achieved unicorn start-up status, but it also became an inspiring example for female entrepreneurs nationwide..
Danielle Warner, general counsel at FIGS, watched as founders Heather Hasson and Trina Spear rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange alongside a dozen healthcare workers. Years of hard work and dedication to the FIGS’ mission led up to this moment, but the company didn’t want to lose sight of its mission to best serve the backbone of the medical industry.
“We were still in the thick of the global COVID-19 pandemic and we didn’t think that it was appropriate to have the spotlight be on the company or our cofounders,” Warner remembers. “The real stars are the healthcare providers that were out there working tirelessly. We really wanted to be able to highlight them and tell their story as part of the IPO.”
The GC describes the moment as a “great rallying cry for the company.”
“Everyone who works at FIGS shares the same passion and feels that they are doing more than just creating the best scrubs,” she says. “We’re really here to serve our healthcare community, and it’s been part of the FIGS DNA since it was founded.”
That passion is what drew Warner to the company in 2019. She spent years in private practice with tenures at Cooley LLP and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, experiences that she credits as providing her with core values that she uses today in-house. First and foremost, she learned the value of customer service.
“You are a service provider at the end of the day. At a firm, you learn about how to work with various clients and their needs, and how to service them in the ways that make the most sense for your client,” she explains. “A big part of that is learning to tailor your work product and your legal advice based on each respective client. The law is often gray. It’s very rare that something is black and white. So, you really need to get to know your clients’ risk tolerance and their business needs to shape the way that you approach your research and ultimately how you give advice.”
In fact, Warner’s client-tailored approach impressed the cofounders of FIGS, a client of hers at Cooley, and ultimately led to them offering her the role of the start-up’s first and sole attorney.
“I had to become a jack-of-all-trades willing to do whatever needed to get done in order to get projects across the finish line and help the company succeed,” the GC reflects. “It was a huge adjustment and learning curve. When you go in-house, especially at a start-up, and especially when you’re the only lawyer, you really have to work to develop a network of external resources. It pushed me to step up my networking and my communications with friends and lawyers that I knew in all various areas of the law and to really hone that legal community that I could rely on.”
Today, FIGS’ legal team remains intentionally lean with four attorneys and one paralegal. “We really believe it’s better to be a team of generalists who are able to easily tackle and adapt to the company’s varying business and legal needs as opposed to having purely specialists,” Warner says. “We’re very collaborative and work well together.”
The GC is also passionate about empowering female entrepreneurship. As an attorney at Cooley, Warner developed a niche practice of supporting women-led companies.
“I felt a sense of pride when we could close a deal after working extra hard on the diligence or fighting longer on the terms to get a result that made the most sense for a company,” she says. “When I came over to FIGS, it was an easy sell. The founders are truly inspiring women to work for, and I was really excited to be working at a female-led organization. It’s really nice to sit at the executive table at FIGS and to see other folks around the table who look like me, who think like me, who have the same life experiences as me, and they are working through the same life challenges as me.”
Warner advises young attorneys to commit to putting in the hours and hard work early in their careers. While it may initially feel difficult and tedious at times, she says that’s how you learn, grow, and unlock new and exciting opportunities.
“Push yourself to take on more, ask more questions, and raise your hand for the toughest deals and the hardest challenges because that will ultimately teach you how to perform at your highest potential and shows you that you can make your way through any tough situation,” she says.
“Danielle is a tireless and fierce advocate. Collaborating with her to secure a huge trial win for FIGS was a career highlight.”
–Ekwan Rhow, Principal