That which we call a rose (or a mud bath) would smell as sweet...
The firm now known as Pearson Specter Litt has seen a lot of changes over the years -- including the names on the wall. So far in season seven, we’ve seen the name almost change twice, first when Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) demanded a seat at the table, and then as part of the intense negotiations Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) entered to bring old friend Alex Williams (Dulé Hill) on board. Those events got us trying to remember: How many times has the company’s name actually changed? Here’s a refresher on the firm’s different incarnations, how they came to be, and who was involved.
1. Gordon Schmidt Van Dyke
We don’t know when Gordon Schmidt Van Dyke started, but we do know when it ended. In 2003, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) became a senior partner at this firm. Charles Van Dyke (Jamey Sheridan) thought she was expressing gratitude when she wrote him a thank-you card: “To the man who hired me, for all you’ve done.” But two days later, Jessica and Daniel Hardman (David Costabile) convened their fellow senior partners for a vote, and ousted the three name partners. How is that gratitude?
It wasn’t … and it was. As we learned in the season three episode “Know When to Fold ’Em,” Van Dyke lied to Jessica when he made her the offer. She asked if it had anything to do with her race or gender, and he swore it didn’t. But Hardman had already shown Jessica “the list.” What list? The one with the asterisk next to her name, indicating that hiring her would give the firm a leg up — not because she was on the Harvard Law Review, or because she was second in her class, but because of the diversity angle. It made Jessica sick to her stomach, because in one second she understood how Van Dyke would always see her. So the card actually was a thank-you, for making her work so hard to get where she is today. Charles woke the dragon, and he got burned.
2. Pearson Hardman
This is where we came in. After the Gordon Schmidt Van Dyke coup, Daniel Hardman became managing partner of the newly minted Pearson Hardman. But this ruthless operator tripped himself up. Jessica noticed someone was stealing from the firm, and asked Harvey, who back then was just another ambitious lawyer, to look into it. (To sweeten the deal, she offered him a partnership if he figured it out.) Harvey found evidence that Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) was the thief. But that couldn’t be right! And it wasn’t. Together, Louis and Harvey figured out that Hardman was stealing the money and framing Louis. When Jessica confronted Daniel, he explained that he needed the money because his wife, Alicia, had cancer. But Harvey soon learned the real truth: Daniel was having an affair with senior associate Monica Eton (Gina Holden). The money he stole was for her. Harvey leveraged this information to make Daniel leave the firm.
Five years later, after Alicia died, Hardman came back. He did some preemptive blackmail damage control, including confessing to the partners that he stole money from clients and could have been convicted of fraud. But he paid it all back -- and was now a changed man. Hardman got control, but once again he was undone by his own sneakiness. In a move that had lasting repercussions, he planted evidence in the firm’s files to make it look like Harvey and Donna had buried it, then got rival lawyer Travis Tanner (Eric Close) sue the firm. When the senior partners learned the truth about that, Hardman was voted out.
Buh-bye, Hardman. Welcome to 'Pearson.'
Jessica had Hardman’s name ripped right off that wall, but he did not go quietly. Instead, he made a bid to take down the firm by taking up with her longtime frenemy, Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce). Hardman used the Folsom Foods gender discrimination case to push Jessica to the limit, as Rand, Kaldor & Zane filed 45 lawsuits at once against the firm. Hardman’s plan was to overwhelm and bankrupt Jessica.
4. Pearson Darby
Sometimes you marry for money, not love, and that’s what Jessica did to stop Hardman. She made a deal with London lawyer Edward Darby (Conleth Hill) to merge with his firm, Darby International, and Pearson Darby was born. Darby had deep pockets and his own reasons for wanting to get Hardman. And his employee (and Harvey’s flame) Dana “Scottie” Scott (Abigail Spencer) was already working with Pearson. Darby took 51 percent of the new firm, making him managing partner instead of Jessica. But he let her name be first on the wall as a gesture.
The deal meant Jessica had to show Darby the firm’s books. Doing so exposed the evidence of Hardman’s previous embezzlement to Darby. So then, Darby could share that information with Folsom Foods CEO Harley Folsom (Jonathan Whittaker). Game over, Hardman.
5. Pearson Darby Specter
Did we mention that Harvey was not OK with the Pearson/Darby merger? Well, he wasn’t. Partly, he was mad about being left out of the loop, since he thought Jessica was just going to share cases with Darby and take his 12 million pounds. And maybe he was a little heartbroken too, when he found out Scottie knew about the deal but didn’t tell him. Maybe?
Anyway, it turned out that Jessica was also unhappy. Darby left her out of the loop too. Following a huge amount of machinations surrounding the Hessington Oil case, Jessica gave Harvey what he asked for: a senior partnership. She didn’t just want Harvey on her side; she wanted them to be on the same side. Making him a senior partner was her way of showing Harvey that she understood his feelings. Harvey finally got his name on the wall. (And when Louis saw that, it ruined his otherwise great morning.) But Pearson Darby Specter did not last long.
6. Pearson Specter
Pearson Darby Specter didn’t last long because Jessica never wanted the arrangement with Darby to last. The complications surrounding Hessington Oil proved to be Darby’s downfall, at least in terms of him maintaining a business presence in the United States. In order to cut a deal to keep Ava Hessington (Michelle Fairley) from being prosecuted, Darby had to give up his license to practice law in the States. This, it turned out, was all part of Jessica’s plan. Soon the merger of the two firms was dissolved, and Darby headed back to his side of the Pond to keep running Darby International. Harvey, of course, stayed right where he was.
But that wasn’t quite the end.
Wait, what? Pearson Specter gets Litt up!
7. Pearson Specter Litt
This is where we are now (for now, at least). How did we get here? Louis suspected that Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) had never gone to Harvard Law School, despite many efforts to throw him off the trail. The jig was finally up when Mike, the man with the memory that never fails him, failed to recognize a memento Louis had: a key awarded to those who, like Louis, graduated summa cum laude, which Mike claimed to have done.
Brutally leveraging this knowledge, Louis forced Jessica to make him a name partner. After she agreed, she told him he strong-armed her into doing something she never would have done — exactly like Harvey would have. In other words, she knew Louis had earned it. But Louis still demanded something unprecedented: an official ceremony unveiling the new firm nameplate. Jessica used the occasion to not only flatter Louis for his “brilliant” idea of having the ceremony, but also praise him for giving them all a chance to reevaluate where they’ve been and where they’re going. With a new name comes a new beginning. Here’s to Louis Litt!