Michael James Ross is a lawyer and junior partner at Pearson Specter Litt, a former legal consultant/supervisor at the Eastside Legal Clinic, with whom he now has a legal partnership with, and was a former investment banker at Sidwell Investment Group. He is married to Rachel Zane.
He was hired by Harvey Specter, a senior partner at Pearson Hardman, as an associate lawyer, despite Mike not having graduated college or having a law degree. Mike left Pearson Specter after accepting the job offer to work at SIG; however, he returns later in season 4 after Jonathan Sidwell fired him from his firm. After Jack Soloff and the other partners at PSL acknowledge Mike's worth to the firm, he is promoted from junior associate to junior partner.
He was arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud in the season 5 summer finale, and was involved in a trial against the U.S Attorney's Office for his illegal practicing of law. Although the verdict was not guilty, Mike plead guilty before the official verdict, and was incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. However, after being presented a deal by Sean Cahill, he helped keep Frank Gallo behind bars and have insider trader William Sutter arrested, and was freed from prison as a result.
He became a legal consultant and supervisor at the Eastside Legal Clinic in Queens, although his time there was brief as he attempted to get accepted into the New York State Bar to become a legitimate lawyer. In the season 6 finale, Mike becomes legitimate and resumes his position of junior partner at Pearson Specter Litt while also maintaining his ties to the legal clinic.
When Mike was 11, his parents died in a car crash. He was then taken in by his paternal grandmother, Edith Ross.
Mike found school incredibly easy due to his photographic memory, and rarely put any effort into studying. He got a scholarship into college and had planned to take up law, until he was expelled after Trevor convinced him to memorize a math test, as a way to make money, and unknowingly sold the answers to the Dean's daughter. Mike had been admitted as a transfer student to Harvard for the next year immediately before. The dean was forced to resign and his last act was to expel Mike and tell Harvard what he did so he would never get in.
Some time after his expulsion, Mike started smoking pot with Trevor. He eventually took a job as a bike messenger. During one of these bike messenger visits, he met Claire, an intern at a legal clinic. After giving her some suggestions on an immigration case and impressing her, the two went out on a date. Claire told Mike that the man she wanted to be in a relationship with would have to be more than a bike messenger, and so Mike lied that he went to Columbia; however, the lie was exposed by Nathan, Claire's boss, and Claire broke it off with Mike. Trevor, in order to pay back Mike for taking the fall for him at the cost of his college degree, rents an apartment in the city and offers to pay up to a year's worth of rent on his behalf. Although his Grammy vehemently opposed the idea, Mike told her he was going to move in anyways, with or without her approval. Realizing he was a grown man now, capable of making his own choices, Grammy told him she respected his decision and so Mike moved in with Trevor.
Whilst at a bar with Trevor, he met two girls, Jenny and Nikki, and immediately hit it off with Jenny. However, it was Nikki who asked Trevor to set her up with Mike, so Trevor ended up asking Jenny out, and Mike with Nikki. After agreeing to go out with her, Mike discovered it was actually a ruse, as Nikki wanted Mike to take the LSATs for her. Although Mike was initially reluctant, he agreed to do so in exchange for money after he found out his grandmother would need full-time care. Mike began taking the LSATs for other people as a living, after he was recommended to others by Nikki. At one point, Mike also took the bar exam for a bet and passed.
Mike realized that he had been taking one too many LSATs when a proctor recognized him. After constantly declining Trevor's invitation to get into the business of selling pot with him, he discovered that his grandmother's medical bills were piling up, and agreed to a one-off job for Trevor, delivering a briefcase full of drugs.
Whilst making the delivery, Mike realized that it was actually a set up and took off with the briefcase in hand. Attempting to hide from the cops, he stumbled into the room where the interviews for Harvey Specter's associate was being held. Although Harvey was impressed by his tactics, he expressed reluctance at hiring Mike as his associate, given that Mike hadn't attended any law school. However, Mike managed to convince Harvey to hire him anyway with his expansive knowledge of the law, and received a signing bonus that would cover his grandmother's medical bills.
After Trevor constantly badgered Mike about the briefcase full of marijuana, he eventually returned the briefcase to Trevor, revealing his business to Jenny in doing so, and took several of Trevor's suits along the way.
Whilst working at Pearson Hardman, Mike fell in love with his co-worker Rachel Zane, a paralegal that gave him a rundown of the firm on his first day and showed him to his cubicle. Despite his feelings for Rachel, he was unable to pursue a full relationship with her, since he was dating Jenny, who had left Trevor after discovering his drug dealing affairs. Mike's job at Pearson Hardman was then put under threat when Trevor, who had discovered that Mike was dating Jenny, revealed to Jessica Pearson the truth about Mike's history.
Although Mike's identity was revealed to Jessica, his position at Pearson Hardman was secured after Harvey threatened to leave Pearson Hardman if Mike was fired. The return of Daniel Hardman, however, put pressure on Mike's secret, as Daniel was searching for something to hold against both Jessica and Harvey, who together had blackmailed him into leaving five years prior for stealing from the company.
As he became more and more busy with his work at Pearson Hardman, Mike was unable to visit his grandmother Edith. After two months of not seeing each other, Edith decided to visit Mike herself at the firm. Feeling guilty for neglecting her, Mike decided to buy Edith an apartment in Manhattan, with some assistance from Rachel. However, just as he was about to take his grandmother to see her new apartment, Rachel informed him that Edith had passed away. Mike broke down in front of her and was unable to focus on work the following days.
Before Edith's funeral, Mike started smoking pot again. At her wake, Mike's childhood sweetheart, Tess, came to see Mike again and after sharing an intimate moment with him, revealed that she was married. Mike initially turned her away, but after being rejected by Rachel, he later called her and slept with her.
Mike ends things with Tess after Harvey tells him to "get his shit together." A man revealed to be Tess's husband beats him outside after finding about the affair. Harvey gets mad at Mike for not filing paperwork for him about the merger he didn't want, after Jessica threatened Mike with a letter revealing his secret. Mike is later seen in the filing room, when Rachel walks in, locks the door, and demands to know why Mike wouldn't send a letter to Harvard for Rachel, after Rachel was told by Louis that she didn't get in because of his relationship with Sheila Sazs. He told Rachel he couldn't sign it because he never went to Harvard. Rachel then slaps him twice, and he grabs her arm and they have sex in the filing room.
During season three, Pearson Hardman is merged with another law firm, Darby International, becoming Pearson Darby. Mike, whose relationship with Harvey is strained after the second season's events, ends up reuniting with his old mentor to fight a case involving client Ava Hessington. Jessica Pearson then discovers Mike's affair with Rachel, and forces Rachel to sign an affidavit declaring she knew Mike never went to Harvard. However, before signing, she asks to be allowed to apply for a job at the firm after graduation in exchange, even though she does not plan on going to Harvard. Mike contemplates a career change since he knows he can not legally be a lawyer. The firm also changes names two more times in the season, becoming Pearson Darby Specter when Harvey is promoted to name partner by Jessica, and again as Pearson Specter when Edward Darby is forced to leave. In the finale, Mike is arrested for collusion and bribery (he convinced Harold Gunderson who worked at Bratton & Gould to represent people who were against Ava Hessington as well as Pearson Darby and had them settle the case financially), which cause Louis and Harvey to bail him out. To avoid causing further problems, Mike leaves Pearson Specter, taking a job as an "investment banker" (though he actually evaluates investments for a hedge fund, so he is more accurately described as an investor). This new job makes Mike a client of the firm, and he jokes with Harvey, telling him that Harvey now technically works for him.
With Mike now working for Sidwell Investment Group, Harvey and Mike's relationship was put to the test because they were on opposing sides of a case. Mike was Harvey's client and when Mike came to Harvey with a plan, Harvey turned him down and chose Logan over him. Harvey's client Logan Sanders and his company wanted to initiate a hostile takeover over Gillis Industries to salvage and sell it for parts, but Mike wishes to save Walter Gillis's company because he made a promise to Walter to save his dream. They both get into a heated exchange after Harvey severed Mike's ties with Walter Gillis by revealing to him that he dealt drugs in the past, which was a problem for Walter because his son died of an overdose. There was also an offer that Mike got from Harvey regarding the takeover, but Mike refused it and stormed out of the conference room since he did not want Gillis's company to suffer such a fate.
Unfortunately, Mike's new job didn't last for very long, Mike made a deal with Charles Forstman in which he agreed to cut Sidwell out of a deal to get money to save Gillis Industries, despite Harvey telling him not to trust Forstman. Mike, however, thinks he has a way out of this because he thinks he can use the idea of Forstman's money as a threat to make Harvey back down, but Harvey sees through it. Mike is unable to save Gillis's company and the deal falls through, and to make it worse, Forstman tells Sidwell that Mike agreed to cut him out of a deal with his own company. Sidwell ordered Mike into his office, and after a heated exchange, Mike gets fired from the Sidwell Investment Group and packs up his things and leaves.
Mike gets a job offer from Forstman, with a million dollar signing bonus, which he almost accepts until he gets rehired by Louis Litt back to Pearson Specter, because Louis did not want Mike to take a job offer from Forstman because of the illegal deal the two of them made, as well as genuinely not wanting Mike to work for someone like him. Jessica was initially opposed to this, not wanting to harbor Mike's secret again, but Harvey managed to convince her that if she refuses, then Louis will know something is up and he will undoubtedly discover Mike's secret.
Meanwhile, Sean Cahill from the SEC along with Eric Woodall are after Mike and Harvey for collusion and the two must figure out a way to make them give up. Their task gets complicated when they find out that Louis had embezzled money from his deal with Forstman. However, after eventually figuring out that Woodall and Forstman are working together, they turn Cahill against Woodall and make him drop the case.
Sometime later Louis finds out Mike's secret and threatens to expose him if he doesn't get his name on the wall. Jessica agrees and the firm becomes Pearson Specter Litt. Louis and Mike's relationship is strained for a while, but Louis eventually forgives Mike, and gets back on the team.
In the season finale, he finally proposes to Rachel and she accepts.
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Mike Ross helps Louis Litt retain McKernon Motors after they are fired by Dominic Barone.
Mike Ross works with Jack Soloff and earns his respect. In return, Jack Soloff nominates Mike Ross for partnership.
The senior partners officially vote in favor of Mike's partnership; Jessica however officially makes him junior partner before the vote and gives him his first case. His first case, however, is against Claire, an ex-girlfriend who is aware that he didn't go to law school.
Mike, not wishing to be exposed by Claire, has Rachel handle the case, but she fails twice, even insulting Claire in the process. In order to make things right, Rachel investigates Claire's client and proposes an acquisition deal through Claire. However, the company, GigaDyne, had just entered the defense contracting business and already gotten their first client, and by investigating and proposing a deal, Rachel had just triggered a background check on everyone involved in the case. Mike and Rachel remove his name off every case file, but Claire catches on. Rachel pleads her not to turn him in as she loves him and they are engaged, and she relents. Mike, however, goes to see her at the end of the episode, and she tells Mike that one day his secret will be exposed, and that if he really loves Rachel, he won't marry her.
Mike decides to call Trevor and invite him to their wedding. Trevor agrees to meet late night at a restaurant/bar, but Trevor tells him that he can't come, as much as he wants to, and adds that his wife didn't even want him to meet him. He tells Mike to quit, a suggestion Mike scoffs at. Trevor tells Mike that one day the money won't matter and he'd want to trade all that in just for a night of going to bed without the worry of being caught. Trevor tells Mike that he went to talk to someone. When Mike asks who, Trevor replies "you know who".
Mike takes the day off work to go see a priest from his childhood. He reveals his secret under confessional, but it turns out the priest is already aware of his fraud, due to Trevor confessing beforehand. Mike is afraid, but the priest reassures him that Rachel won't abandon him if he quits his fraud. Mike goes back to the office, handing a letter of resignation to Harvey, telling him that if he one day hopes to have a family of his own, he would not want his secret hanging over their head. Harvey and Mike hug, and Mike goes to deliver the news to Rachel. They then agree to meet at the elevators, after Mike clears out his old office, but as Mike approaches the elevators, he is arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud.
Mike enters the Federal prison in Danbury to face his two-year jail sentence for fraud. In jail, Mike discovers a new enemy in Frank Gallo, an inmate who has a great deal of influence with the guards. Gallo tricks Mike into giving him Rachel's phone number, and promises trouble for Mike in his vendetta against Harvey. Mike meets his actual cellmate, Kevin Miller, and is wary of being tricked a second time. Mike gets into a fight with Gallo that leads to his visitation rights being revoked for two weeks.
Mike tries to stay out of trouble to please Julius, the prison psychologist, but Kevin gets attacked. Cahill offers a deal for Mike if he can get Kevin to inform on his father-in-law. Mike initially rejects Cahill's offer, but Harvey and Cahill covertly sneak him out of prison for a few hours. Cahill believes this is to give him a chance to convince Mike, but Harvey sends Mike to Rachel behind Cahill's back. Mike tells her about the deal and agrees to accept it.
Mike tells the prison warden Harvey's plan to get him out of prison early and is warned about the dangers of gathering evidence. Mike also confronts Kevin to get him to reveal why he's in prison. Kevin tells him about a drunk driving accident which followed an argument with his wife, but does not disclose the subject of the argument.
Mike has a nightmare that Kevin killed Rachel in a car crash. He is relieved the dream isn't true, but because of his parents' death, he isn't comfortable knowing Kevin did something similar. He continues to see counselor Julius Rowe, but Rowe isn't happy with Mike's mindset toward his imprisonment.
Mike learns that Cahill is seizing Jill's and Kevin's assets beyond the proceeds of the insider trading. He threatens Cahill with an abuse of power lawsuit for Kevin's sake but only jeopardizes his own deal. Mike delayed his own release one day in order to film Gallo threatening and attacking him in his cell.
Mike was Harvey's associate. Despite Mike's lack of a law degree, Harvey hires him, impressed by his wit and knowledge. Harvey mentors Mike, similar to how Jessica had mentored him. Mike, who never had any responsible paternal figures in his life, except his grandmother, after his parents' deaths, comes to regard Harvey as an older brother and a best friend. While he, inherently, is forced to put his trust in Harvey since the revealing of Mike's secret could get him fired, he grows to do so willingly as Harvey proves to be an excellent mentor.
Mike is fiercely loyal to Harvey and often goes to great lengths to achieve the impossible on Harvey's behalf. This loyalty also comes with an element of dependency, both in a professional and emotional manner -- when Mike makes mistakes, Harvey unfailingly comes to his aid, as Harvey feels responsible for his associate. In "Shelf Life," Harvey bails Mike out when Mike is caught looking through files of a rival firm, and in "Bail Out," he protects Mike from the threat of Trevor's moneylenders. Harvey is protective of Mike in an older-brotherly way; when Jessica learns of Mike's fraud and demands that he be fired, Harvey refuses to do so. In "Blood In The Water," when Mike comes into work with a black eye after being beaten by Tess's husband, Harvey demands to know who did it so that he can "kick his ass."
Mike is devoted to Harvey like no one else in the office, and their playful banter and teasing becomes a trademark aspect of their relationship. They have similar taste in movies and often challenge each other to quote-offs. At times, Harvey becomes less of a father-figure or older brother and more of a friend. In "High Noon", he joins Mike in an evening of drinking and smoking, and the two even try to sabotage the office to get back at Louis.
In "War," Jessica puts a rift in Mike and Harvey's relationship after telling Mike that if he files his motion she will tell the district attorney that he is a fraud. Mike and Harvey eventually reconcile, after Donna tells Harvey to forgive him.
In season 4, Harvey and Mike's relationship is put to a test again, when Harvey takes a case against Mike in a takeover battle. But after Mike gets fired and finds out that Rachel kissed Logan, Mike goes to Harvey for help.
Though Harvey and Mike's relationship is tested by obstacles, their unbeatable teamwork and unspoken bond with one another proves to triumph again and again.
Rachel and Mike's relationship started off as rocky. Rachel showed disdain for Mike for being a show off and also for, according to her, trying to hit on her. But throughout the course of the first season, their relationship grew to trusted working partners. When Rachel was suspended after being wrongfully accused of leaking a confidential document, Mike went out of his way to help Rachel get back her job. When Mike and Jenny started dating, it put a hidden strain on their growing relationship.
After working together on a case, Rachel kissed Mike in the library, an act witnessed by Louis. Later on, Rachel accused Mike of toying with her when he kept on flirting with her even though he was officially with Jenny. This argument led them to breaking off their friendship and partnership, causing Mike to have much difficulty with some of his cases. After sharing several drinks with Donna, Rachel left Mike a voicemail telling him that she couldn't stop thinking about their kiss. Mike did not receive the message until much later, due to Trevor intercepting the message.
When Mike finally received Rachel's message about their kiss, he kissed her and told her that he wanted them to happen. After their first official date, Rachel mentions how she appreciates honesty in a relationship. Because of this, Mike decides that he wants to tell Rachel his secret. He visits Harvey that night to ask advice on the matter, but Harvey objects. After a talk with Donna about his discussion with Harvey, Mike decided to not tell Rachel and ended their relationship before it got too complicated and before he hurt her. Later that day, Mike went to Harvey's place to inform him that he didn't want to keep any secrets from Rachel if they started a relationship, but Harvey discouraged him from doing so, stating that after what just happened (Jessica finding out and Harvey saving his job by threatening to "go if he goes"), Mike should know better than to let another person know the truth. Mike came to the conclusion that both Harvey and Donna's opinions were plausible, so by the end of the episode, he told Rachel that he could no longer continue their relationship.
Mike later managed to mend his friendship with Rachel, and she helped Mike pick out an apartment for his grandmother. She was also the one to inform him that his grandmother had died. Rachel helped him through everything that needed to be done in accordance to his grandmother's death. In his grief, Mike kissed an old flame that was present during his grandmother's wake but left after finding out that she was married. Once Mike managed to find a way to take down Hardman, he kissed Rachel, but she insisted that they shouldn't do it since his grandmother had just died, and she didn't think that people make smart choices when something like that happens. Mike stormed away stating that "being smart [hadn't] made either one of [them] very happy." The last scene of the episode showed Mike opening his door for Tess, and after they have sex, there is someone at the door; Mike hurried to open the door thinking that it was the pizza boy. It turned out to be Rachel who says that he was right but is crestfallen when she sees Tess.
In the last episode of season 2, Mike finally tells Rachel he never went to Harvard. She slaps him, and they have sex in the filing room.
At the start of Season 3, Rachel is still angry that Mike withheld his secret, however when he tells her the full story she forgives him and they begin a sexual relationship. Later, Rachel gets accepted to Stanford for law school, but does not tell Mike as she fears that he'll break up with her. Mike is initially angry at this revelation, but comes to realise that Rachel deserves to be happy and study where she wishes. Instead of ending their relationship, Rachel approaches Jessica Pearson and asks her to make an exception to the Harvard rule for due to her stellar performance and work ethic. Jessica allows it, and Rachel instead enrols at Colombia. Eventually Mike and Rachel move in together, moving into the apartment that Mike had originally purchased for Grammy.
In season 4, their relationship begins to intensify when Logan Sanders comes to Pearson Specter. Rachel tells Mike that she had an affair with Logan while he was married. Mike ignores this as a thing of the past. However, Rachel kisses Logan and ultimately tells Mike about it, prompting him to punch Logan. Mike subsequently breaks up with Rachel after she tells him that she still has some feelings for Logan, though they later reconciled. In the Season 4 finale, Mike proposes to Rachel and she accepts.
Mike was in love with Jenny when she was still dating Trevor. When Mike revealed to Jenny that Trevor dealt drugs, she became angry at Mike and broke up with Trevor. Trevor then lied to Jenny that he had stopped, but Mike wanted Jenny to know the truth. Mike later kissed Jenny but realized that it was not a good idea, considering Trevor was his best friend. but while in the progress of asking Jenny for help it turned into a full on sex affair. Eventually, they start dating anyway, but Jenny becomes very suspicious of Mike's relationship with Rachel when Louis tips her off.
After Trevor discovered that Mike was dating Jenny, he told Jenny about Mike's kiss with Rachel, and Jenny promptly left Mike.
Trevor was Mike's best and oldest friend who is considered an "anchor" by Edith and Harvey, and they advise Mike to cut him off.
He started dealing drugs around the time Mike began being paid to take the LSATs for other people. Mike agrees to do the same when it becomes clear he needed money to let his grandmother stay in a private home. Trevor later attempts to start anew after Mike saves his life with Harvey's help.
Their friendship is strained when Trevor learns that Mike had been dating Trevor's ex-girlfriend Jenny during Trevor's absence. As a result, he tells Jenny that Mike and Rachel had kissed and informs Jessica of Mike's lack of a degree.
When Trevor threatens to ruin Mike's life more than he already has, Mike reveals that he knows Trevor's social security number and will use the information against Trevor if the need arises.
Edith Ross was Mike's grandmother who took him in after his parents died in an accident. She passed away during the Season 2 episode "Asterisk." By then, Mike had purchased an apartment for her which, unfortunately, she had never seen. Her death obviously saddened Mike, who returns to using marijuana in order to ease his misery.
According to Mike, she was happy that he finally found a job that fully engages him.
The relationship between Mike and Louis Litt has always been a rocky one. In Season 1, Louis tricked Mike into taking marijuana, which could have cost him his job. Mike retaliates by taking a client away from him. In season two Louis and Mike work on a case together, Mike tells him that actions have consequences and that Louis's actions were the reason why Mike and Louis never got along well. However just as they are starting to bond, Louis bugs Harvey's office and figures out that Mike and Harvey have been keeping something important from him, Mike and Louis's relationship is strained again. However, when Louis is about to leave Pearson Hardman and Mike shows up battered and bruised, Louis tends to Mike's wounds and helps Mike with his case. In season 3, Louis wants Mike to work as his personal associate and Mike accepts but after Harvey and Mike get back together, Louis ends up being mad at Mike again. This season also showed how Louis triggered Mike's job as he doubted Mike having gone to Harvard. In season 4, Mike uses Sheila against Louis during the Gillis takeover, and that puts a rift in their relationship again. However, after Mike gets fired and goes to take the job with Forstman, Louis puts his anger towards him aside and hires him back at Pearson Specter.
After Louis finds out that Mike never went to law school, their relationship becomes strained. He makes him memorize every case that he ever did and he even uses Rachel to break him. Eventually, Harvey takes Mike and Louis on a road trip to McKernon motors, and forces them to talk to each other. On a gas station, Mike and Louis start to fight each other, with Louis nearly choking Mike to death. After that, Louis and Mike talk to each other and their conversation ends with Louis saying; "You're not a fraud, Mike. You just never went to law school." Louis is the one that offers to teach Mike to drive at the end of the episode.
- Mike has an eidetic memory.
- Mike tells Nick Rinaldi that he was 11 when his parents died in a car crash due to a drunk driver back in 1992, which puts his birth year around 1981.
- He was officially nominated for junior partnership by Jack Soloff, a senior partner of the firm. His nomination was approved by every partner within the firm.
- Following the nomination, Jessica Pearson promoted Mike to junior partner before the official vote, thereby making Mike the youngest junior partner in firm history.
- While Mike is the youngest to ever make junior partner, Harvey Specter is the youngest to make senior partner. Mike, however, is the youngest to make partner overall.