• General counsel, Spanx Inc.
  • Florida State University, biochemistry, 2000
  • Georgetown University Law Center, 2003

When Leslie Slavich made the switch three years ago from a pharmaceutical patent litigator at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan to become the sole in-house counsel at Spanx, she says she received some valuable advice.

“You shouldn’t think of them [Spanx colleagues] as your coworkers,” Slavich says she was told. “You need to think of everyone that you work with as your clients when you’re in-house.”

That advice, she says, has really helped her in her role.

“I definitely worked to develop relationships at Spanx internally with people who are very smart and that I trust and can bounce ideas off of,” she says.

One of her greatest challenges is fighting the urge to spare no expense and balancing risks and costs of things, she says. “It’s hard as an attorney. You always want to absolutely do the right thing for your client, so walking that line and keeping a business hat on has been a challenge.”

According to Brad Bell, Spanx’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Slavich has managed that challenge by bringing business and legal perspectives to her role.

“She has gained a great understanding of our business,” Bell says, “How it works, what’s important to it, and not just from a financial or operating standpoint. We are very much a brand- and consumer-driven company, and she certainly has a good understanding of that.”

Slavich says working for a smaller company enables her to see the direct impact of her work. She cites a case in which a company in the Czech Republic copied the Spanx website images and text, with the Spanx text translated into Czech.

It was a clear infringement case, she says. “Pretty much a slam dunk. We got the website shut down,” she says, “but it was nice for me to see that somebody can bring the issue to my attention, I can deal with it and I can fix it and benefit the company.”

Kim Jones is CFO of SweetWater Brewing Co. and was corporate controller at Spanx where she helped hire Slavich. She says Slavich dove right into her position at Spanx and became an invaluable resource.

“The great thing about Leslie,” says Jones, “is she is true to her natural instinct. She cared so much about managing the company’s risks and she was very quick to identify all different kinds of risks for the company.”

Spanx is expanding internationally as well as into the retail market, and the growth will inevitably create more legal needs, Slavich says.

Regarding the future, Slavich says, “I feel like I have my dream job right now. I see the company growing and the department growing along with it. It’s really one completely different issue after another every single day, so I don’t see myself getting bored anytime soon.”

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