CRAWFORD COLLEGE NORTH COAST
SERIES: SUITS EPISODE 1 “Errors & Omissions” & EPISODE 9 “Shelf Life”
Season 1, Episode 1: Kevin Bray
Season 1, Episode 9: Felix Enriquez Alcala
Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter
Patrick J. Adams as Mike Ross
Rick Hoffman as Louis Litt
Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane
Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen
Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson
The following project will be focusing on the series ‘Suits” whilst referring to various sources and understanding of analysis in areas such as Leadership and Management, management tasks and competencies, Professionalism and ethics as well as the various processes at Pearson Hardman.
Summary and Evaluation of the Theme, Characters and Setting
Suits is a legal drama series that is set at a law firm in New York City. It is about a young talented college dropout, Mike Ross who works as a law associate for Harvey Specter. Even though Mike Ross didn’t go to law school, he initially did a drug deal for his friend Trevor as he didn’t have enough money to pay for his Grandmother’s medical bills. When he was about to make the deal in the hotel, he worked out that it was a set up involving the police. He loses the police in the hotel, and stumbles into an interview for a premiere law firm. There he meets Harvey Specter who is one of Manhattans best lawyers, who agrees to give Mike the job even though he wasn’t properly qualified for it. Harvey Specter has noticed that Mike Ross has an incredible memory, which helps him learn very fast. In addition to him being unqualified to practice as a lawyer, it is actually considered fraud to work without these qualifications. But with his fantastic ability to memorize, Harvey chose him over all the other candidates because of it. The show is basically about how Harvey Specter mentors Mike to become a lawyer whilst not trying to get caught. This is a law drama, with an element of dramatic irony shown throughout the series, whereby the audience is able to see the full picture, whereas the characters in the series are not aware of the other character’s actions. This series focuses on the processes and legal actions that are carried out within a law firm. It portrays an understanding of what it is to work in a law firm and within a corporate environment.
Evaluation of Management and Leadership
There are various Leadership styles that are able to be identified throughout the series, from Democratic leadership through to Autocratic leadership styles the below will discuss and evaluate the above through close reference to scenes in the series.
The first scene that show’s a style of leadership would be the style referred to as “Transactional leadership”. Firstly, one must define the concept, transactional leadership can be referred to as a “give and take” basis, the leaders offers followers something of some sort of value that would suggest a form of encouragement or motivation to get whatever it is that the task is completed faster and with a better result. This ‘something of value’ could be an added remuneration/bonuses/benefits.
The scene that depicts this style of leadership would be the scene where Jessica Pearson calls all the associates together and lets it be known that there has been a leak of documents to one of the other law firms; “Wakefield Kady” She goes on to urge the culprit to come forward as they will get to the bottom of the situation and find the “rat” regardless. She then proposes to all the associates that whoever finds the person to blame will receive a $10 000 reward.
This notable action is what makes this scene indicative of it being a form of transactional leadership. This scene occurs in Episode 9. The positive of this style of leadership would be that it encourages creativity and appreciation for effort, however it could negatively affect the group of associates as a team and could cause a disruption amongst them and distrust of their fellow colleagues.
There is another style of leadership portrayed in the series which would be classified as a Laissez-faire leadership style which means, according to the internet source (www.learningfm.com) this style could be understood as “French for “let (people) do as they choose,” laissez-faire describes a hands-off approach.1 Laissez-faire leadership will typically yield the lowest results because the leader does not directly supervise the employee.” A further characteristic of this leadership style would be the leader does not provide any help or assistance, they will provide the resources however they leave all the decision-making up to their employee.
A scene example of this form of leadership would be when Harvey gives Mike’s first case to him in episode 1 which is the “pro-bono” case on sexual harassment. Jessica warns Harvey that he must specifically do the case himself and yet he just very causally hands the case to Mike, even though Mike is not aware of the company’s “in’s and out’s”. Luckily this form of leadership would work on an intellectual like Mike Ross, due to his independent ability to learn at a rapid speed and with the help of his photographic memory.
A third demonstration of a leadership style would be the autocratic style, which means, “The autocratic leader exercises total control over all decisions and allows very little input from employees”, this form of leadership is visible when Jessica tells Harvey and Louis that they have to each take one of the sisters cases for the division of their deceased father’s estate. They are unhappy over the situation but Jessica does not even give them an option to argue, her say is the final say.
The Identification of Management Competencies
When referring to the concept of management competencies one could identify various scenes within the prescribed series. Firstly, the understanding of management competencies could be understood as a series of skills that would incorporate; attitudes, knowledge and behavioral characteristics that a “follower” would portray in one’s managerial styles to be effective.
When looking at the above, one could identify a management competency within the scene where Harvey attempts to persuade a client, the judge that had many affairs, and honestly expresses his perspective, as well as provides context, on the consequences of the client’s adultery. This could be identified as “customer service and competency” in the definition of a manager (Harvey) demonstrating increased acknowledgement of sensitivity towards his client and through this changing the client’s needs and his demands. Another aspect of this situation would be Harvey creating a sense of trust from this client through his verbal portrayal of declaring how much he knows of his personal life to him and thus creating and ensuring a strong foundation of security in ensuring that his client should trust his perspective and proposition towards his argument towards the case at hand.
Another scene that would illustrate a form of management competency would be the category of “judgement and decision making” which is in the beginning of season one where Jessica Pearson has an important client in her office and instructs Harvey to come and settle the issue. The client is demanding the opponent to suffer emotionally even though the demands of the settlement or dispute has been met. Harvey makes a very harsh and authoritative call towards their client and the client tries to question it through calling out Jessica by questioning Harvey’s decision on “good and bad faith”, he asks Jessica, “you going to let him talk to me like this?” and she makes a decision for the firm by replying to the client; “Harvey speaks for the firm”. (Suits: Season 1;Episode 1)
When referring to the concept of management tasks one can define the term by saying it is a form of managing a task or multitasks and thinking strategically. When looking at a specific scene of the series and referring to the topic at hand the situation where Louis calls Mike in to introduce himself as the “disciplinarian” and exerts this through firing an achieved associate from the year before for not performing at the level that is required within the company. This sort of management is effective to the extent of portraying the intensity of what it is to work for the firm as well as the “honor” to be there. This form of management would be classified within the category of “Discipline” (Class notes; 2018).
Another example of a management task when looking at the prescribed series would be the category of delegation, this is shown in the scene where Jessica hands off a pro-bono case to Harvey for him to do, even though he does not want to do it. She instructs this case through her authority thus making it a delegation, this would show off a leader giving control over something to a subordinate, this would have been effective had Harvey not passed this case further down the line to Mike, but again showing another clear management task situation of delegation.
Professionalism and Ethics
The following content will discuss the role of ethics or non-ethical behavior and professionalism that is illustrated within the series. Ethics and professionalism is an important and widely practiced concept, specifically within a corporate environment, as they ensure a strong and required foundation in a “cut-throat” environment, such as law. When looking at law and its definition, you are looking at arguing for the case to be right and are expected to apply your knowledge along the foundations of what is ethically correct and true. This is administered through a code of conduct.
Suits is an interesting series for this discussion as it has an ambiguous aspect to it, such as a well-established lawyer knowingly hiring an un-educated yet highly capable intellectual to work for him, it is unethical yet he is giving someone who lost an opportunity in practicing law, (Mike Ross) due to his already unethical decision to sell a test paper to a Dean’s daughter, unknowingly.
There are a series of situations that show ethical and non-ethical behavior that the following will discuss as well as discuss the strategies behind how it is resolved or the alternative to how it could or should have been dealt with.
The first situation of ethical behavior would be the obvious act of Harvey knowingly hiring an un-educated employee, as discussed above, the ethical or correct professional code here would be not to do this as the procedure is to disbar anyone who is not professionally qualified or registered to practice law.
Another scene where unethical behavior is shown would be where the scene where Mike has broken into another law firm to try and find information on another lawyer only to get caught by the security guard, the security guard then tries to bride Harvey, who Mike calls to come help him, but Harvey puts the security guard in the situation where he himself ends up being bribed to let Mike go, but, also receives an envelope of money as a “kind gesture”. The ethical strategy here would be letting Mike receive the consequences of his actions and avoid any bribes or unauthorized “gifts” to occur.
Another example would be the process, or lack of, where Rachel the paralegal gets dismissed for being the supposed leak in the company for the unauthorized confidential documents passed on to Wakefield- Kady law firm. The unethical behavior identified here would be that Rachel has a strong and trusted reputation at the firm and when the codes that were used to access the information are identified to be hers, she is not even allowed an opportunity to defend herself and there are no actual procedural steps to ensure a fair and just dismal.
Furthermore, a situation where Harvey requests money from the firm to stop the plaintiffs from settling in the case in episode 9, which gets denied, his need and desire to continue and have his way (proceed to continue with the case) goes ahead and he then says he has the money. This goes against his request that has been denied and it becomes unethical through him partaking or expressing he has authorization. Thus making it an unauthorized payment. This is a risky call and would have serious consequences if caught. The ethical strategy here would be finding an alternative and law abiding route that would ensure the plaintiffs don’t settle.
When looking at conflict within the environment in the series, and how it is managed, one could firstly say that it is dealt with sometimes in an unorthodox manner, however the situational conflict at hand is still handled through the various procedural step in order for the conflict to be settled and the parties to come to an agreement, either through the practice of negotiation, conciliation, mediation and arbitration. The above mentioned steps being followed in a consecutive manner as laid out above.
A scene in the series where conflict management is visible would be when Harvey and Louis are each assigned a sister to defend and assist in settling their now deceased father’s estate and corporate assets. However, it is immediately identified that both sisters dislike each other and the case will be a huge challenge when trying to come to an agreement and attempted dividing of everything. This strikes an internal competition with Harvey and Louis but both discuss that it could lead to going to court and thus they, together, negotiate their own fair terms on how they are allowed to deal and approach the case so that it is “fair game”. This being an indication of managing conflict at a negotiable level between the two parties without needing to take it further.
The processes at Pearson & Hardman
The processes carried out at Pearson & Hardman can be seen as somewhat unorthodox, unusual, yet they are still considered to be one of the top law firms in the city. The atmosphere is that of highly competitive, over achieving and often at times very “cut throat”. This, however, could be seen as an indication of what the inside of a highly established and respected law firm would look like, baring the fact that this is a television series and could be exaggerated to entice the audience and create a more effective program.
To conclude, one could say, having identified the various learned strategies, implementations and concepts outlined in the provided SAG documents and other references used, it is clear that the scenes discussed in the above mentioned topics, that the series Suits has provided a strong platform for comparison of analysis and conceptualization of business in ethics, conflict management, processes, strategies and opportunity to weigh up both the good and bad behaviors that could occur when dealing with business within the corporate environment.
1. https://learningfm.com/leadership-styles/ – leadership styles
2. Class notes SAG documents (IEB Matric Content)
Other Cited Sources
1. https://www.informationvine.com – Online Source