21st February 2024

From the intricate world of law firms to the complexities of legal cases, Suits, at times, was like a real firm, and at times wasn’t. The television series captivated audiences with its dramatic portrayal of the legal profession. Set in the bustling legal landscape of New York City, the show follows the captivating story of Mike Ross, a brilliant college dropout with exceptional legal knowledge, and his mentor, the charismatic and formidable lawyer Harvey Specter. Suits skillfully weaves together the professional and personal lives of the characters, showcasing their legal prowess, ethical dilemmas, and the dynamics within a prestigious law firm.

The series takes viewers on a thrilling journey through high-stakes legal cases, strategic negotiations, and the complexities of attorney-client relationships. While Suits offers a captivating portrayal of the legal profession, it is important to distinguish the fictional elements from the realities of practicing law. The show presents a blend of real-world legal scenarios and creative liberties taken to enhance the storytelling and entertainment value. Here are five times Suits was like a real firm and five times it wasn’t.

Related: 5 Times We Hated Harvey Specter (And Five Times We Felt Sorry For Him)

Harvey and Mike In The Courtroom

Throughout its run, Suits showcased a variety of legal cases, providing viewers with glimpses into the complexities and challenges lawyers face. The series depicted them conducting thorough research, analyzing evidence, and strategically planning their arguments to build strong cases and counter opposing counsel.

For instance, in one episode, the characters faced a high-profile intellectual property dispute involving two tech giants. The lawyers had to navigate complex patent laws, review technical documents, and interview expert witnesses to craft compelling arguments. By portraying the intricacies of legal research, preparation, and courtroom strategies, Suits offered viewers a closer look at the realities of handling complex legal cases.

9 Office Hierarchy

Harvey and Mike In Harvey's Office

The series portrayed a clear hierarchical structure within the law firm, reflecting the realities of organizational dynamics in real organizations. The show depicted senior partners overseeing the firm’s operations, making critical decisions, and managing client relationships. Junior partners and associates worked under their guidance, handling various tasks such as legal research, document drafting, and assisting with cases. Additionally, support staff members like paralegals and legal secretaries provided administrative assistance.

An example of this hierarchy can be seen when Harvey Specter, as a senior partner, made strategic decisions on which cases the firm would take, while associates like the iconic Mike Ross were responsible for conducting research and providing support on those cases. This portrayal mirrored the typical structure of real law firms, where roles and responsibilities are divided based on experience, expertise, and the delegation of tasks necessary to handle clients’ legal needs efficiently.

8 Client Relationships

Mike And Harvey Standing With A Client

Another real-life law firm emulation was the exploration of the lawyers’ interactions with clients, emphasizing the importance of establishing trust and providing effective legal advice. The series showcased initial client consultations where lawyers sought to understand clients’ legal issues, goals, and expectations.

For example, in one episode, Harvey Specter met with a wealthy client embroiled in a high-stakes divorce to secure a favorable settlement. During the consultation, Harvey demonstrated his ability to ask probing questions, actively listen to the client’s concerns, and provide tailored advice based on his legal expertise. This exemplified the critical role of effective communication, empathy, and understanding in building strong attorney-client relationships.

7 Ethical Dilemmas

Harvey Specter Looking Very Serious

Suits frequently presented ethical challenges faced by the characters, highlighting the moral complexities inherent in legal practice. The show explored conflicts of interest where lawyers found themselves in personal relationships involving clients or opposing parties, jeopardizing their professional objectivity. For instance, in one storyline, a lawyer discovered that a close friend was representing an opposing party, raising ethical dilemmas about divided loyalties and potential breaches of client confidentiality.

This conflict exemplified the intricate ethical considerations that lawyers must navigate in their daily practice. The series also tackled issues such as attorney-client privilege, confidentiality, and the duty to act in clients’ best interests. These storylines prompted discussions about the importance of maintaining professional integrity, avoiding conflicts of interest, and upholding legal and ethical standards in the legal profession.

6 Workplace Dynamics

Mike Ross In THe Bullpen with Harvey Supervising Him

The series delved into the dynamics within a law firm, illustrating the competitive nature among associates and the pressures of meeting deadlines and billable hours. The show depicted junior associates striving to impress senior partners and working long hours to conduct legal research, draft legal documents, and prepare for court appearances. This competitiveness was exemplified through cases assigned to associates, where they vied to demonstrate their legal acumen and secure favorable outcomes. Additionally, the series emphasized mentorship relationships, with more experienced lawyers guiding and shaping the careers of younger associates.

For instance, Harvey Specter mentored Mike Ross, providing guidance, imparting legal knowledge with iconic quotes from Harvey, and challenging him to excel. Furthermore, Suits highlighted the importance of teamwork and collaboration within a law firm. Lawyers often worked together on complex cases, pooling their expertise and leveraging each other’s strengths to achieve favorable outcomes for their clients. These aspects of workplace dynamics showcased in the show resonated with the realities of legal environments, where dedication, mentorship, teamwork, and effective time management are fundamental to success in the profession.

Related: 5 Times We Hated Lewis Litt (And 5 Times We Felt Sorry For Him)

5 Hiring Non-Lawyers

Mike and Harvey in the Street

One of the significant departures from the realities of law firms in Suits was the premise that as a college dropout with exceptional legal knowledge, Mike Ross could practice law as an associate without attending law school. While this aspect added intrigue to the show’s plot and allowed for exploration of the challenges faced by Mike Ross in maintaining his secret while navigating the legal world, it is important to note that in real life, practicing law without a law degree and passing the bar exam would be illegal.

Hiring a non-lawyer as a practicing attorney is purely fictional and not representative of the legal profession. The character of Mike Ross created a unique storyline that showcased his exceptional abilities and the consequences that arise from practicing law without the necessary qualifications.

4 Unconventional Practices

Harvey explaining Something To Mike In The Office

Within the series, the characters were portrayed many times as engaging in unconventional and unethical practices to win cases, which deviated from the ethical standards of real law firms. While these actions heightened the drama and suspense within the show, it is important to note that real lawyers are bound by legal and ethical rules that prohibit such behavior.

For instance, in one of the episodes, Harvey found himself in a high-stakes legal battle involving a professional tennis player accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. To bolster their case, Harvey and Mike decided to resort to an unconventional and unethical tactic: witness tampering. They sought to manipulate a key witness, another player on the tennis circuit, into testifying falsely in court to benefit their client. This portrayal highlights the importance of distinguishing between the dramatic elements of a television series and the ethical obligations that lawyers adhere to in real-life legal practice.

3 Personal Relationships

Harvey And Donna with a Complicit Look At The Copier

Suits often blurred the boundaries between personal and professional relationships, showcasing romantic involvements between lawyers and conflicts of interest arising from personal connections. The series explored scenarios where characters had romantic relationships with clients, opposing counsel, or colleagues, creating complications and ethical dilemmas. For example, one storyline involved a lawyer developing a romantic relationship with a client, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest and compromising the attorney’s professional objectivity.

While personal relationships can naturally develop in professional settings, real law firms prioritize maintaining professional objectivity and avoiding conflicts of interest that could compromise the integrity of legal representation. Lawyers are expected to navigate personal relationships responsibly, ensuring that their personal connections do not interfere with their duty to act in their client’s best interests and uphold professional standards.

2 Unrealistic Timeframes

Mike High Five to Harvey In The Office

When it came to some of the timelines of legal procedures, Suits occasionally compressed them, making complex cases appear to be resolved more quickly than they would be in reality. While this artistic license allowed the show to maintain a fast-paced narrative and keep viewers engaged, it is important to understand that real legal proceedings involve various stages that can significantly extend the timeline of a case.

For example, in the show, lawyers often solve complex legal matters within days or weeks, while real cases can take months or even years to resolve. Real-world legal proceedings include discovery, negotiations, motion practice, and trial preparation, all of which contribute to the overall length of a case.

1 Lack Of Administrative Focus

Donna At Her Desk Doing Admin Things

Suits primarily focused on the lawyers and their cases, often neglecting the administrative and organizational aspects of running a law firm. While the show depicted lawyers handling legal matters and interacting with clients, it minimized or omitted administrative tasks such as billing, marketing, client acquisition, and firm management. In real law firms, dedicated staff members or departments handle these administrative functions to ensure the smooth operation of the firm.

For example, real law firms have accounting departments responsible for billing clients, marketing teams responsible for promoting the firm’s services, and business development professionals responsible for acquiring new clients. These administrative functions are crucial to the successful operation of a law firm, as they support the lawyers in providing legal services effectively and efficiently.

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