From the get-go, we knew Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) was no pushover. When she first met newly hired Pearson Hardman associate Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), she briskly informed the flirting newbie that she was used to new hotshots expecting her, a mere paralegal, to be blown away by their dazzling degrees. Then she assured him she wouldn’t be blown away by his. And why should she? Maybe she was “just a paralegal,” but Rachel already had her own office at the firm, while Mike the “hotshot” got the standard associate’s cubicle. That was our first clue that Rachel was unstoppable. In fact, over the years she has taught us more than a few things about getting what you want.
1. Be Independent
Rachel’s father, Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce), is a high-powered attorney with tons of money. But she preferred to keep that connection quiet -- and to live on her own salary, with no handouts from Dad. It might have been easier to take advantage of her family’s wealth and status, but being independent gave Rachel the freedom to keep her father’s expectations at bay. Living life with no strings attached also meant her successes (and her failures) were all hers.
2. Keep Trying
It was obvious that Rachel knew more than enough about law to be a good attorney. So how come she wasn’t already a lawyer when Mike met her? Basically, taking tests freaks her out. She had to get a score of at least 170 on the LSATs to be accepted into Harvard Law and earn the degree she needed to be an attorney for the firm. In truth, she had almost given up -- until Mike insisted on helping her study, and urged her to stop being such a perfectionist. After all, no one aces the LSATs. But Rachel was so frustrated, she actually considered paying someone to take the LSATs for her, like her fellow paralegal Theresa did. (And, damn, was she mad when she found out Mike was the one who helped Theresa cheat.) Ultimately, Rachel decided to keep trying. She took the test again, scored a 172, and still didn’t make the Harvard Law cut. Like that was going to stop her.
3. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
Rachel had a rule about not getting involved with coworkers. But who could ignore all those sparks with Mike? She was so happy when they started secretly seeing each other … and then he immediately pulled the plug. He said it was because he knew about her relationship with Colin McCarthy, the first-year associate she dated, whose job performance faltered after she broke up with him -- so badly, he got fired. Mike claimed he was afraid he would screw up his job, too, but that wasn’t the real reason. Rachel didn’t buy his explanation, and accused him of thinking she wasn’t good enough for him. But later, she knew there was something else going on with Mike. Good instincts!
4. Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Slap — or Two
It seemed like Rachel and Mike were never going to be on the same emotional page. Through all the ups and downs, she couldn’t shake the sense that he was hiding something really big. When her pain and confusion sparked a late-night confrontation in the file room, Mike finally ’fessed up. “I’m a fraud,” he tearfully admitted, explaining he had never gone to Harvard. A furiously hurt Rachel brought that hammer down -- twice! Somehow, that was exactly what they both needed to get their relationship on the right track.
5. Leverage It
Rachel was super-bummed about not making it into Harvard Law. She ended up at Columbia instead (not a bad safety school...), and kept a part-time job at the firm too. Right before Rachel started school, managing partner Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) found out about her relationship with Mike. Unhappy that her business dealings could potentially be exposed to rival Robert Zane, Jessica demanded Rachel sign an affidavit declaring she knew Mike was a fraud. Daddy always said “Don’t sign anything unless you can get something in return,” so Rachel was ready. In return, she got Jessica to agree to waive the firm’s Harvard rule and hire her after she graduated. Thanks, Pop.
6. Make Your Bed … and Lie in It
Knowing Mike’s secret opened Rachel up to all sorts of risks. She had to lie to her parents, but that was the easy part. More than once, she jeopardized her professional future to protect him. Like when Mike’s old flame Claire Bowden (Troian Bellisario) figured out he wasn’t really a lawyer, and Rachel found herself first covering for him, then begging Claire not to tell. After Mike was arrested for fraud, gung-ho U.S. attorney Anita Gibbs (Leslie Hope) came down hard on Rachel in an attempt to see Mike convicted. Rachel was rattled big-time, but she proved tougher than Gibbs ever imagined.
7. Don’t Stop Believing
One thing Rachel has never been short on is conviction (except for that whole test-taking thing...). She hardly wavered in her belief that Mike would somehow be freed from prison -- even though at first she was furious with him for taking the plea deal, and heartbroken when he decided to postpone their wedding at the last possible minute. Her ability to set aside all doubt is a key reason Rachel is shaping up to become a formidable lawyer. After all, she was still a law student when her steadfast faith in the innocence of wrongly convicted Death Row inmate Leonard Bailey (Glenn Plummer) even convinced him to fight for his freedom -- and win.
8. Stand Your Ground
Rachel doesn’t like being be at odds with her loved ones, but she’ll still call them out when they need it. She even managed to rein in her hotheaded father when they worked together to take down the shady banker who abused his sister years earlier. Staying calm in the face of his anger helped them get justice for her aunt. Even Mike’s not immune. She didn’t like it when he signed an agreement with the firm to stop working on a pro bono prison case, then secretly kept doing it anyway. But she really unleashed the fury after the situation forced her to lie to Harvey (Gabriel Macht). She told Mike in no uncertain terms that she never wanted to be put in that position again. (We have a feeling she won’t.)
9. Admit When You’re Wrong
After a devastating breakup, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) started viciously taking out his personal pain on the firm’s associates. Rachel, one of Louis’s staunchest allies, still knew his behavior was crossing the line into actionable. Newly sure of her abilities, thanks to having passed the bar, Rachel decided she should take over the associates -- and got Donna (Sarah Rafferty) to back her up. But then Rachel and Donna had an ugly, very public confrontation with ambitious fourth-year associate Stephanie Patel (Nitya Vidyasagar), handling things almost as badly as Louis had. First Rachel blamed Donna for undermining her, but then she admitted she wasn’t ready to be a supervisor. All she wanted was to focus on becoming the best lawyer she could be. And, really, isn’t that what we all want for her?
We will certainly miss Rachel's inspiration. Be sure to savor every moment of Meghan Markle's final season of Suits, airing Wednesday nights at 9/8c!