Sometimes, ideas for posts come from the most unlikeliest of places.
Trying Suits on for size
This past week, I decided to give the TV series Suits a try (while we are still enjoying a free preview of Amazon Prime!).
In the pilot episode, I was particularly drawn to the character of Rachel Zane (played by very-soon-to-be-a-princess-in-real-life Meghan Markle), who is the law firm’s top paralegal and researcher — and knows it! I do love a woman who is smart and is not afraid to be smart.
Here are just a couple of snippets of how Rachel describes herself and her work ethic in the pilot episode:
- “I’m smart.”
- “I take my job seriously.”
Breaking down the research scene
A little over halfway into the episode, the newbie assistant lawyer, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), asks Rachel for her help on a case. Let’s beak down their conversation.
First, the ask and recognition of Rachel’s research skillz. (I also have to admit that at one point, I thought seriously about becoming a paralegal and putting my own research skills to use in a different way.)
Mike: Rachel! I need your help!
Rachel: So why are you coming to me?
Mike: Because Donna says you’re the best researcher in the firm.
They walk into her office, which, in the pilot episode at least, is lined with bookshelves. A woman after my own heart!
Mike: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You have an office? How do you have an office, and I have a cubicle?
Rachel: Like you said, I’m the best researcher in the firm.
Next, the research set-up:
Rachel: You’re asking to look at private files without any evidence of your assertion.
Mike: Yeah, but the only way we can find the evidence is to look at those files.
Rachel: It’s a rickety argument.
Mike: But is there precedent?
Rachel: Let’s go see if we can find one.
Finally, the pay-off at the firm’s in-house law library. (Two stories, no less!)
Rachel: Research is as much art as science. So, we’re gonna look at privacy and harassment law to see if we can find a combination of cases to make an argument. I’ll take privacy.
Mike: I’ll take harassment law.
Rachel: This’ll take a while.
Final lessons about research
What do we learn from these few seconds about research with ace paralegal Rachel Zane?
- Research is a combination of art and science — in other words, being BOTH “book smart” AND “street smart”
- Have a plan before you start researching
- Think about multiple starting points/keywords/potential sources
- Research can take time
- If you need help, ask a research expert!
I’m admittedly new to Suits — even though its final season is about to air, having already hit that 100-episode marker! — but I was very pleasantly surprised by how invested I was in the characters by the end of the pilot episode.
Have you seen Suits? Do you like Rachel Zane’s character? Please leave a comment and share!