Suits is a popular legal drama television series that aired on the USA Network from 2011 to 2019. Over the course of its 9 seasons, the show followed the employees of the fictional law firm Pearson Hardman, later known as Pearson Specter Litt. A major part of the show revolved around the dynamics between the partners of the firm as they navigated high profile cases and office politics. As the series progressed, the managing partners of the firm changed hands multiple times. Let’s take a look at who held this important position during the course of the show.
When Suits begins, Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres, is introduced as the managing partner of Pearson Hardman. A shrewd and powerful lawyer, Jessica is focused on expanding the influence and prestige of the firm. She hired Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht, as a junior partner at the firm and the two share a mentor-mentee relationship. Jessica remains the managing partner for the first two seasons of the show.
In season 2, Daniel Hardman, played by David Costabile, returns to Pearson Hardman after a 5 year absence following his wife’s death due to cancer. Before he left, Daniel was a named partner at the firm along with Jessica. Upon his return, Jessica is forced to make him a managing partner alongside her. However, it is soon revealed that Daniel has been embezzling money from the firm’s clients. At the end of season 2, Jessica manages to defeat Daniel’s takeover attempt and forces him out of the firm for good.
Going back to Jessica Pearson
After Daniel’s ouster, Jessica goes back to being the sole managing partner of Pearson Hardman from seasons 3-5. During this time, Harvey is promoted to senior partner. Other notable events include – Mike Ross, played by Patrick J Adams, being hired by Harvey despite not having a law degree, and the merger between Pearson Hardman and Edward Darby’s British firm. This leads to the name change to Pearson Darby.
Harvey and Jessica’s Power Struggle
In season 5, tensions arise between Harvey and Jessica over control of the firm. After Edward Darby’s retirement, Harvey leverages his position to request the promotion of his protege Louis Litt to name partner. Jessica isn’t happy with Harvey going over her head and their relationship becomes strained. By the end of season 5, unable to work with Harvey anymore, Jessica voluntarily gives up her role as managing partner.
Enter Robert Zane
After Jessica’s exit, Robert Zane, played by Wendell Pierce, is brought in as the new managing partner in season 6. He is the father of Harvey’s girlfriend and the managing partner of Chicago firm Rand Kaldor Zane. Robert’s tenure is short-lived though. He steps down midway through season 6 after the partners vote against his decision to fire Louis. This leads to another shuffle in the firm’s power structure.
Louis Litt’s Promotion
With Robert gone, Louis is promoted as the new managing partner in season 6. One of the original characters on Suits, Louis provides some much needed comic relief through his eccentricities, insecurities and competitiveness with Harvey. As managing partner, Louis tries to be more equitable and transparent in his leadership approach. However, his tenure has its share of hiccups, like failing to meet the revenue target set by the partners. But Louis grows into the role gradually and retains his position for the remainder of the show.
A Quick Recap
Here’s a quick recap of the managing partners during Suits’ 9 season run:
|Part of Season 2
|Part of Season 6
The Significance of Managing Partner
The managing partner held an important dual role on Suits – as the administrative head of the firm overseeing its functioning as well as a senior attorney fighting cases in court. They set the agenda for the firm and had the maximum say in all major decisions like case selection, recruitment, firing, promotions and financial management. The personality and leadership style of the managing partner also massively influenced the firm’s working environment and culture.
Additionally, they were the public face of the firm who interacted with clients to bring in business. The dynamic between the managing partner and other powerful partners like Harvey also shaped storylines and character arcs throughout the show. It’s fair to say the managing partner was the most important power position in the firm. The changing of hands of this role added lots of drama and interest to the show’s plot as aspiring candidates constantly jockeyed for this coveted spot.
Why Did the Position Change So Frequently?
Considering how influential the managing partner was, the frequent changes in this role over the course of Suits may seem surprising. There were several factors responsible for the musical chairs between Jessica, Hardman, Robert and Louis:
- Ambition of characters like Harvey Specter to take over the top spot
- Underhanded tactics like Hardman’s embezzlement which forced Jessica to remove him
- Interpersonal conflicts between Jessica and Harvey’s contrasting management styles and vision for the firm
- Business reasons like Robert Zane’s merger not being accepted by the partners
- Long running story arcs which necessitated changes in power dynamics to keep things interesting
The constant shifts and power struggles over the managing partner position added lots of suspense and drama to the show. It also allowed for character growth and evolution as several candidates got opportunities to prove their leadership mettle when their turn came.
To conclude, even though multiple people held the reins of Pearson Hardman and its later avatars during the show’s run, Louis Litt emerged as the ultimate boss. The reluctant underdog managing to beat out slick and accomplished lawyers like Harvey and Jessica for the top job provided a satisfying character arc. Louis taking over in season 6 and lasting till the series finale in season 9 makes him the last managing partner of the firm during Suits.