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Suits is an American drama television series created and written by Aaron Korsh. It is a legal drama about a fictional New York law firm that follows a Harvard graduate lawyer, Harvey Specter, and Mike Ross, a college dropout with a photographic memory (pretending to have a Harvard law degree). The story primarily focuses on Harvey and Mike solving cases while maintaining Mike's secret. The show ran for 9 seasons on USA Network from 2011 to 2019, and was nominated for several awards including Best Drama. The show's popularity sparked a new spinoff series, Pearson, that follows character Jessica Pearson in Chicago politics. Although Suits has been successful from an entertainment perspective, some of its overall criticism and questionable portrayals stem from inaccurate depictions of legal work in the professional scene.


Mike Ross was a recently accepted Harvard Law student, until he got expelled after getting caught illegally taking the LSAT for other students.[1] However, after accidentally walking into an interview for the law firm Pearson Hardman and demonstrating his photographic memory, he is hired by senior partner Harvey Spector.[1] The interesting part is Mike never graduated college or law school, which makes the hiring unconventional. Harvey and Mike make a deal such that Harvey will help falsify Mike’s records to make it look like he’s qualified, while Mike will work hard to become the best lawyer in the firm.[1]


Harvey Specter

A big shot Harvard lawyer working at Pearson Hardman who is rumored to be the greatest closer in all of New York. He hires Mike Ross to be his personal associate, despite knowing that Mike never went to law school and the legal issues of this action. Harvey tries to win cases at all costs other than by breaking the law.

Mike Ross

Mike Ross works as an associate to Harvey Specter at Pearson Hardman. He was accepted to Harvard as a transfer student, but was later rejected after the school learned he sold a college math test. He has a photographic memory and the expert knowledge of anything after he reads it once.

Rachel Zane

Rachel Zane is a paralegal who works at Pearson Hardman. She is the daughter of Robert Zane. Her dream is to become a Harvard lawyer like her father, but she must first pass the LSATs to get into law school. Her father has doubts of Rachel's abilities as she has been a paralegal for six years.

Jessica Pearson

Jessica Pearson is a name partner of Pearson Hardman. She and Harvey have a close trusting relationship as she was his mentor, even funding him to go to law school. She is the only African American, female name partner in all of New York. Jessica is intelligent and cunning throughout the series. She has made many sacrifices throughout her career to get to her position, including avoiding personal relationships, having a family, and having to be relentless and portrayed as mean in order to become a well respected woman of power.

Louis Litt

Louis Litt is a Harvard lawyer working at Pearson Hardman. He is the head of associates, including Mike Ross. He bleeds loyalty to Pearson Hardman and Harvard Law, and produces some of the highest billables for the firm.

Donna Paulsen

Donna Paulsen is Harvey Specter’s secretary. She and Harvey have a special relationship that makes them work great together. Donna is known to read people and situations without much context and is very important to the firm. Although her position is technically secretary, she does much more and contributes meaningful work to many of the firm's cases. She met Harvey when he first started working for the District Attorney’s office and moved with him to Pearson Hardman when he quit.

Robert Zane

Robert Zane is the father of Rachel Zane. He is one of the name partners at Rand, Kaldor, and Zane, a competing firm of Pearson Hardman.

Show Direction

Aaron Korsh is the writer of Suits. Korsh also wrote for classic shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond, Just Shoot Me! and other notable sitcoms. Suits was an interesting choice for Korsh because it is not a sitcom. [2]

The wardrobes in Suits is also notable. Harvey dresses in thick ties and looser suites while Mike has a more European style of dressing. This plays into their power dynamic as Mike is a junior associate. Both men wear signature three piece tailored suits. Other cast members in the show such as Rachel Zane also follow this form. [3]

Success Of Suits

One reason for the show's popularity is the aura of sophistication and confidence that Harvey Specter exudes when he walks into a room.[4]. The shows screams classy attire, swagger, and overall brilliance. The setting of New York City also adds to the desire for the viewer to be part of the story.

Suits revolves around Mike Ross who is a law associate with a photographic memory. His character forged papers to make it seem as if he graduated from Harvard Law School, which is the only law school that Pearson Hardman hires from. This is a secret that him and Harvey keep for a very long time. The most gravitating part of the show is the dynamic duo of Harvey and Mike. Their Batman-and-Robin-like relationship makes the show binge worthy, similar to shows like "White Collar".

Another noteworthy component of the show is the relationship between Mike and Rachel Zane. They develop a romantic connection which adds to the mystery and desire of the series. [5]

Ethical Concerns

Femininity in Mass Media

The media has had an issue with the representation of women in the past. Many television series have followed stereotypes of both men and women. In TV dramas and sitcoms, women tend to be represented more as mothers, nurses, and secretaries than as working in dominating and powerful roles. In contrast, men tend to be represented in domineering roles that display aggression and strength. [6]. Suits does a great job at breaking this trend. Several of the characters have traits that do not fit these stereotypical roles. Some examples are the characters Jessica Pearson, Louis Litt, and Rachel Zane. Jessica Pearson is the head of Pearson Specter. She is portrayed as an intelligent leader that understands much of the world around her, and she is highly respected. Despite this, she gave up many things to become this person, which is representative of how the real world is. In order to get to the top in a cut-throat field such as corporate law, it's difficult to maintain a social life, personal relationships, or to even be seen as a nice person when you are a woman going up against aggressive young men. Furthermore, Louis Litt is a partner at Pearson Hardman, who produces the highest billables. Despite being a senior partner, he is not always aggressive like many of his colleagues. He appreciates things like ballets, smoothies, tennis, and his cat, which are not perceived as "manly" characteristics. Both Louis and Harvey see therapists regularly, which helps normalize the fact that men have emotions and do not always need to be strong and aggressive as society has expected them to be. Finally, Rachel Zane is a paralegal of the firm. Her father has looked down on her for not being a lawyer, but she has rejected his handouts her entire life. She decides that she wants to make it on her own without her parents’ help, become a part-time paralegal and law student, and an excellent and well respected lawyer among her colleagues.

Racism and Media

Racism has been a major issue in the media for a long time. Many early forms of entertainment portrayed African Americans as savages, ignorants, and potential rapists. White actors would also be painted black to play the roles of African Americans, insinuating that African Americans were not good enough to play their roles. This influenced peoples’ racial perceptions for a long time. [7] Suits cast many important supporting characters as African American, notably Jessica Pearson and Robert Zane. These characters show multidimensional development through their struggles to become who they are today. They are both portrayed as strong respectable managing partners of their law firms, but the story doesn't forget to mention what they gave up in order to become the respected professionals that they are. Jessica has strained relationships with her family and struggles to maintain a romantic relationship throughout the series because she spends so much time working. Robert Zane is slowly revealed to have been disrespected by many of his white colleagues and has had to fight harder and make a few unethical choices in order to become a name partner at Rand, Kaldor, and Zane.

Inaccurate Depictions of Legal Work

In the show, Harvey, Mike, and all the other lawyers are glamorously portrayed to the viewers’ eyes. They wear beautiful clothing, earn healthy paychecks, and dine out at fancy restaurants.[8] While some of these aspects could very well be accurate, it is easy to overlook the unglamorous side to legal work.[9] Much of the process of legal work includes spending long hours doing research work in the office with cluttered boxes all around.[9]

Another aspect of the show is all the lawyers seem to be smart characters who have tricks up their sleeves if they ever get into trouble.[8] Although lawyers are trained to be keen and prepared for all circumstances, the storyline of Suits makes all characters seem bulletproof. Most of their actions come with minimal negative consequences, and their conflicts seem to be resolved quite nicely in some form.[10] From Donna being charged with an intent to commit felony fraud to characters perjuring themselves in court, their problems seem to be temporary and minimally affect the main storyline.[10]

Ethics of Lawyering

Being a series about lawyers, the show touches over many ethical concerns in lawyering. In our legal system, everyone has the right to representation, and it is a lawyer's job to represent their client regardless of his or her own personal opinion. [11] However, the ethics of these situations are often debated. Is it ethical to represent someone who committed a heinous crime with substantial evidence against them in the same way that one would represent someone with little evidence against them for a minor crime? Suits does a great job trying not to place bias on viewers on what to do in these cases. Whenever there is an ethical dilemma, characters argue over what the right thing to do might be, and no matter the outcome of the case, several characters always feel guilt about what has happened. For example, Harvey almost always wants to win the case no matter what (even if that means hiring a private investigator in order to strong-arm the opposition into a negotiation), whereas Mike wants to do the right thing, even if that means losing the case at the firm's expense. [12] It is important to not impose beliefs on how ethics should be handled to viewers, and Suits stays by generally agreed-upon fundamentals of integrity. The main characters never perjure themselves, falsify testimony, or do anything illegal in court. All of the outcomes of cases favor the party that was portrayed to be in the right.

Despite the fact that Harvey and Mike rarely break the law, they do use a lot of loopholes that while not illegal, can definitely be seen as unethical. Even from the first season, Harvey and Mike use Mike's photographic memory to their advantage in order to have things go their way. For example, if Mike was actually a lawyer, then when he violates rules of the law such as knowingly revealing a client's confidential document, he would have broken confidentiality, but he isn't because he is not actually a lawyer, and Harvey did not officially order him to do so. This is an example of Harvey and Mike using loopholes to avoid breaking the law, and do what would be considered unethical and "shady" things in order to get clients to do what they want (for their personal and for the firm's benefit).[13] In another case, Mike is willing to sell out his prison roommate's wife in order to get himself out of prison. This shows another example of characters in Suits behaving unethically for their own gain. [14]

There are also certainly ethical flaws in the series, as early as in the first episode. Harvey is promoted to senior partner, but demoted shortly after when he lies to a client and proceeds to get the firm fired by that client. Harvey then convinces Jessica to let him keep his promotion on the grounds that he completes a pro bono case himself. He then selfishly passes the pro bono case onto Mike who was just hired, because he has "more important things to do". Even though Jessica later finds out, Harvey is still able to keep his promotion despite lying to a superior and not completing the case himself. The most unethical part of this is that the reason Harvey is able to keep his job is because he blackmails Jessica by saying that if she doesn't let him keep the promotion, he will report her to the Board of Ethics for not reporting Harvey for lying to a client. The unethical message here is that blackmail is okay if it lets you keep your job. All of this occurs in only the first episode, and unethical behavior does not disappear throughout the series. [15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pfeiffer, C. (2016, July 27). USA Network’s “Suits:” Separating Fact From Fiction. UpCounsel Blog.
  2. Andreeva, Nellie Suits Series Finale Deadline. September 25, 2019
  3. Suits Wiki [ Errors and Omissions ] Suits Fandom.
  4. Birch, Nikolai The success of ‘Suits’ StandardASL. October 13, 2013
  5. Daley, Katerina 15 Secrets Behind Suits You Had No Idea About ScreenRant. March 12, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2021
  6. Chandler, Daniel. “Television and Gender Roles”
  7. Kulaszewicz, Kassia E.. (2015). Racism and the Media: A Textual Analysis. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website:
  8. 8.0 8.1 Seitz, M. Z. (2013, July 17). Seitz on Suits, or Why Certain Great TV Shows Get Ignored by Critics. Vulture.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Miller, L. (2019, January 25). 20 Things Wrong With Suits We All Choose To Ignore. Screen Rant.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mukherjee, S. (2016, October 13). It’s Time We Realised That Suits The Show Is More About Suits Than Actual Law. ScoopWhoop.
  11. Sharon Dolovich, Ethical Lawyering and the Possiblity of Integrity, 70 Fordham L. Rev. 1629 (2002). Available at:
  12. Maciel, M. Clarkson. “Suits and Ethics.”,
  13. Anonymous. Suits and Legal Ethics, 4 May 2014,
  14. “'Suits' Season 6, Episode 7 Review: Mike Ross' Moral Dilemma; Sean Cahill's Play.” Matt & Jess TV Commentary,, 25 Aug. 2016,
  15. Famaran, Patrick. “Suits: The Dark Side of the Law.” Rhetoric and Pop Culture, Wordpress, 4 Feb. 2013,