Daniel Hardman, J.D. was the co-founder of Pearson Hardman. He is an attorney and was the former managing partner before Jessica Pearson and Harvey Specter threatened to expose his affair to Alicia Hardman, his wife, who had cancer. His actions on the later half of season 2, forced Jessica to merge with Edward Darby to create Pearson Darby, which later got renamed to Pearson Darby Specter.
Before the year 2003, Daniel was a senior partner at Gordon Schmidt Van Dyke. Sometime in 2003, Daniel, along with Jessica, had successfully staged a coup by convincing majority of the senior partners to vote out Gordon, Schmidt, and Van Dyke, creating Pearson Hardman. The coup was said to be very swift as described by Harvey Specter "...you got [your name] up there fast" to Jessica.
In 2009* (six years ago according to a 2015 episode), Daniel pitted Harvey and Louis against one another with the promise of partnership on the table, promising to give it to whoever does what needs to be done. Hardman had Harvey sign McKernon Motors but then told him to drop him for a firm triple the size of that. When Harvey refuses due to the fact that he gave McKernon his word, Daniel claims he isn't partnership material since he can't put the firm's needs above his own word, and instead promotes Louis to junior partner, since Louis managed to sabotage Harvey's game plan and caused him to lose the court case.
In the year 2007* (five years ago according to a 2012 episode) Jessica had noticed someone had been stealing from the firm after looking at the accounting books. Hesitant to go to Daniel without any concrete proof, Jessica sends Harvey to investigate, promising him partnership if he succeeds. Harvey soon finds the culprit to be Louis, only to find out that the real culprit had made Louis out to be the fall guy. With Louis's help, Harvey proves that Daniel Hardman had been the one stealing from the firm. When confronted about this by Jessica, Daniel reveals that his wife has cancer and he has been stealing this money to help her. This was enough to satisfy Jessica but not Harvey who really wanted his partnership. He soon discovered that the money was not for Alicia but for Monica Eton, with whom Daniel was having an affair. Threatening to tell his wife, Harvey asks Daniel to sign a piece of paper saying Daniel is walking away from the firm. Daniel reluctantly agrees.
Five years later, when Alicia loses the fight against her cancer, Hardman comes back and manages to take over the firm once again and takes advantage of a lawsuit filed against Harvey by Travis Tanner, saying Harvey had buried evidence in a case. Harvey, who had done no such thing, ordered Donna to find any such evidence in the file room. When Donna found the evidence stamped with her name on it, she destroyed it in an attempt to protect Harvey. Later, it was revealed that Hardman had planted the CM memo to make it look like Donna had buried it, and then had Travis Tanner attempt to sue the firm. Hardman was then dismissed from the firm for fraudulently suing the firm.
Daniel then started working with Robert Zane to try take the firm down by defending Folsom Foods on a gender discrimination civil case being handled by Pearson Hardman. While defending Folsom, he files a gender discrimination suit on behalf of Monica Eton using, word-for-word, the lawsuit Mike Ross had filed against Monica. He also has a bunch of people filing lawsuits against Pearson Hardman - although the lawsuits hold no weight, Daniel knows that either Jessica and Harvey would have to settle the cases or go to court and fight them all off, both bankrupting the firm in the process. This causes Jessica to merge with Darby International to create Pearson Darby, and with Darby's funds they manage to get rid of and settle every case Hardman had against them.
More than two years later after his dismissal, Hardman once again returns to New York and is trying to take over the firm from Jessica and Harvey, by using senior partner Jack Soloff. Hardman puts his plan in motion in the episode "Uninvited Guests", where it's revealed that he has signed a client worth billions of dollars. Jack Soloff, during a partners meeting, tells the partners that Daniel is share the client with all the partners, should they agree to bring him (Daniel Hardman) back to the firm on "trial basis". Of course, Harvey and Jessica immediately object to this and end the meeting. Hardman privately explains to Jessica that the client is look for acquisitions and since Jessica turned the offer down, he is going to start targeting Pearson Specter Litt clients. Mike and Harvey decide the one way to beat Hardman at his own game is top whatever he could offer their clients, and go to Jonathan Sidwell and Tony Gianopolous, two hedge fund managers, to get equity and loans. However, Hardman is able to top whatever Sidwell and Gionopoulous could offer, despite it being impractical. Harvey then realizes there's only one person who could and would actually give Hardman that much money, and it is revealed that Hardman is being backed by none other than shady billionaire Charles Forstman.
- The original founding partner was supposed to be Phillip Hardman, portrayed by Victor Garber, who willingly passed on his position to Jessica.
- In season 2, it is said he was ousted from the firm in 2007, yet season 4 shows him still in the firm in 2009.
- At some point after Hardman was fired (Hardman representing the gender discrimination case against Folsom Foods), a scene shows that Hardman's name was taken off the wall changing it from "Pearson Hardman" to just "Pearson".