Whenever Mike Ross looks back, when he finds a moment in between cases or a second to stare off the balcony of his condo, or in the time between consciousness and sleep, Mike tries to imagine when he stepped on this path. He asks himself what was the moment when he turned from Mike Ross, troubled loser, to Mike Ross, soon to be best lawyer in the city. And he’ll always settle on the image of Trevor, grinning, a copy of the Calculus II midterm in his hand. And he remembers taking that test, ripping it to pieces, and throwing it in the trash.
When Mike graduated Columbia Law, he received eighteen job offers, no questions asked. None of which were from Pearson-Hardman, the best law firm in the city. A quick call to the managing partner, Jessica Pearson, informed Mike that they only hired from Harvard, and Mike, in one of his rare fits of temper, told Jessica she was making one of the biggest mistakes of her career. She chuckled lightly and hung up, and Mike proceeded to call Wakefield-Cady, then the fifth best law firm in the city.
Mike chose Wakefield-Cady because they practically begged: offering him a higher starting salary than anyone else, and a practically guaranteed partnership in three years. He also knew that it would look even better when he eventually lead the law firm to the top. Yeah, Mike Ross was pretty cocky, but he knew he was good. And if he wasn’t the best lawyer in New York yet, he knew he would be, just given a little time.
His first case was a pro-bono. He listened with sympathy as young woman named Jenny Griffith told about her mother’s messed up leg, how she might never be able to walk again, and how her health insurance company refused to pay for the surgery. Mike put his all into her case, determined to win for her, and for her mother.
He lost his first case to a Mr. Harvey Specter, Junior Partner of Pearson Hardman. Mike barely remembers the trial today, but he remembers the devastated look on Jenny’s face before it disappeared behind a flat, broken smile. Afterwards he just sat there sat on a bench outside the courtroom, and stared at his hand. The hand that Jenny had shaken gently before leaving, her brow furrowed slightly and her mouth turned down at the edges.
Harvey Specter walked out of that courthouse with a smile on his face. He glanced to the side and saw the opposing lawyer sitting on the bench. He was slumped down like a kicked puppy, his eyes liquid in the dim light. Harvey imagined he felt something, a faint pressure in his chest. Someone else might have called it sympathy, but Harvey knew he’d let go of those feelings long ago, and whatever this was now was just the ghost of something remembered. He turned away quickly. That night her picked up a car from the car club, a new yellow Lamborghini, and drove until the strange feeling disappeared.
Mike had a twenty-five thousand dollar signing bonus in his account, and every cent went to Jenny’s mother’s surgery. Jenny swore up and down she would return the favor, and her chance came three years later on a cold night in September. Mike’s grandmother died in her sleep, alone. Mike was notified at 9:20 that night, and at 9:52 Jenny was holding him on the hardwood floors of his new apartment, his present to himself for making Partner. She held him the entire night and arranged her funeral, a quiet affair attended by Mike, Jenny, and a few members of his Gram’s card club. Mike stood through the funeral and the reception, the condolences. He listened to his Gram’s old friends: the mutters of “She was damn good a spades, I’ll tell you that” and “She knew how to be happy, you know? Just a tall glass of wine and an afternoon game of poker.” He said his eulogy, held back his tears, and said a final goodbye to his grandmother.
That night Mike lay in his bed and tried to count the people in his life. There was Jenny, and maybe some of the guys from work…but he didn’t really talk to them, besides the occasional drink. So there was Jenny.
His thoughts wandered to Trevor, and he considered calling him. Mike hadn’t seen Trevor since he started law school, and they hadn’t been real friends since before that. After the incident with test, Mike gave up pot. He started taking more classes, planning to graduate early, and started a part time job as a waiter. The schedule between dedicated student and aspiring drug trafficker had few overlaps, and Mike and found himself drifting further and further away from Trevor, and their life-long friendship. Mike shifted in his bed to stare out the left side of his bedroom, the wall made of clean clear glass. He looked at the people shifting below him, and blinked at the city lights, trying to categorize his sudden loneliness.