Robert Zane grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Harlem with a younger sister, Jasmine. As a child, he was surrounded by friends who engaged in criminal activities. During his teenage years, he joined his friends in attempting to rob someone; however, when the person fought back, they beat him to the point where he was hospitalized, which Robert came to regret.
Robert eventually attended Harvard Law School, where he met and befriended Daniel Hardman, with the pair imagining that they would start their own firm someday. Robert was eventually hired by Jarvis, Green, Ellis and began to work as a corporate attorney. At some point, he married a woman named Laura and had a daughter named Rachel. While working at JGE, he was approached by Jasmine, who notified him that her boss, Arthur Kittredge, was sexually harassing her. Robert suggested Jasmine quietly apply for a transfer, although Jasmine wished to deal with the problem head-on, asking Robert to represent her in a lawsuit against Robert. However, Robert believed that spearheading such a case would tarnish his reputation at the firm and would get him fired, therefore refusing to do so. Jasmine dropped the matter and became depressed soon after, with his career having been affected due to Kittredge's actions as well. Jasmine eventually became sick and died, causing Robert to develop feelings of immense guilt and shame.
Some time later, Samantha Wheeler, an associate at the firm, had been met met by an FBI agent who informed her that the firm and its name partners were under investigation for money laundering. She approached Jarvis, who asked her to investigate the matter discreetly. While looking through the files, she came across Robert, who informed her that he too was looking for information as he suspected something was amiss, and suggested that they split the task. However, Samantha chose to look into Robert's task as well, discovering that Robert was seemingly implicated as his records showed payouts being made. Robert notified her that the name partners were indeed guilty of money laundering and that they had put the money in his account to incriminate him, and implored Samantha not to expose the affair, stating that he had a daughter. Having never known the feeling of a father wishing to protect his daughter, Samantha agreed to help him, and asked him to choose two fellow attorneys at the firm whom he trusted, adding that he couldn't pick her as she was too young and because it would seem suspicious. As Robert chose Ellen Rand and Eric Kaldor, Samantha orchestrated a takeover from the shadows, allowing Robert to oust Jarvis, Green and Ellis and form Rand, Kaldor & Zane.
She began to work as Robert's personal associate at the new Rand, Kaldor & Zane. After walking home at night after staying up late at the firm, she was physically assaulted and mugged by an unknown man. As she was on a phone call with Robert at the time, she was able to yell at him to call 911. She was hospitalized soon after, and upon regaining consciousness, wished to exact vengeance on her assailant, vehemently proclaiming that she was not a victim. Robert attempted to have District Attorney Cameron Dennis prosecute the matter, only for Cameron to inform Robert that he could not as the mugger's friend had given him an alibi, placing him somewhere else during the time of the attack. Since Cameron added that he would prosecute if new information came to light, Samantha teamed up with Robert to fabricate evidence, resulting in the mugger being incarcerated. However, Cameron called Robert to inform him that the mugger had been killed in his cell, causing Robert to feel immense guilt for causing another man's death and choosing to hide the fact from Samantha.
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Having left Rand, Kaldor & Zane to form Zane Specter Litt, Harvey Specter wished to retain the title of managing partner, while Robert wished to take over. As Louis Litt notified the pair that they each had clients with overlapping divisions that created a conflict, Harvey and Robert attempted to have the other's client drop their divisions. Harvey appointed Alex Williams while Robert used Samantha Wheeler, his right-hand. Harvey began to believe that Samantha would defeat Alex, and therefore interfered to win the case himself; however, his actions proved that he was not managing material, causing him to defer the role to Robert. In addition, Harvey switches offices with Robert, gaining his old office back.
As a result of Mike Ross' resignation, Harvey had taken over all of Mike's clients. One of the clients, Max Loudan, informs Harvey and Robert that his partner and friend, Nick Turner, have started a business venture together but that half of their $100 million investment is missing. Not wanting the firm to lose a client and suspecting Max of embezzlement, Robert assigns Samantha Wheeler to aid Harvey in solving the matter. Meanwhile, Alex tries to get in Robert's good graces. Robert informs Alex that the best way to warm up to him would be to land a big client, prompting Alex to seek out Starboard Airlines, a client of Rand Kaldor, and its CEO, Gavin Andrews, who used to be represented by Samantha. Samantha undermines Harvey in order to retain the client, although she has Max resign as a result, infuriating Harvey as he wished to genuinely aid Max in his crisis. Robert berates Samantha for helping him, informing her that he wants her to fix problems for Harvey as much as he does for her. Nonetheless, Robert notifies Harvey that the firm's next name partner will be Samantha, causing friction as Harvey had promised the same to Alex, although he does not inform Robert of this.
Robert comes to odds with Harvey when the firm's elevators are disabled due to Harvey representing cleaning lady Anna Reed against landlord David Fox. Harvey then notifies Robert that he made Alex the same promise as he did to Samantha. Shortly after, Robert finds himself irritated that Louis has missed a client meeting to seemingly have sex with Sheila Sazs. He orders Donna to compile a list of revenue per square foot and butts heads with Alex. However, Donna tells him that because he wasn't a managing partner who was attuned to the needs of his co-workers, and because he was strictly business all the time, he pushed the others away and it was most likely the reason Ellen and Eric turned against him. Harvey reveals to him that Louis had missing the meeting and had stumbled in court because he had been mugged, causing him to pay a visit to Louis' office and inform him about his youth in Harlem, after which he tips off Samantha about Louis' tragedy.
Shortly after, Robert takes a break from the firm and relocates to his vineyard in upstate New York. He then calls Donna and asks him to send Alex to the vineyard, as he wishes Alex to represent him for a racial discrimination case. Robert claims that the reason all of his neighbors received their barrels and he didn't is because he is black and they are white, and that his lack of barrels ruined his entire year's harvest. However, it is revealed that the reason his barrels were intentionally withheld was not due to his color but because he bought out the vineyard from a family who was there, and therefore is seen as a "Wall Street" outsider to the other owners, who have owned and operated the vineyards in their families for generations. Robert decides to drop the lawsuit and arrange a community tasting room for the entire community to share for free.
Harvey and Robert team up to defend their firm from Thomas Bratton, who is suing them for $20,000,000 for conspiracy to collude during the Masterson Construction/Reform Corp. case. Harvey and Robert discover that Bratton has cancer and two years left to live, and has chosen to spend his remaining lifespan trying to take them down. However, the pair soon discover that Bratton has succumbed to an unexpected heart attack. Despite Bratton having come after them, Robert becomes emotional at the death of an old friend, and asks to be left alone to process his emotions.
Due to Alex and Samantha's clashing, Robert agrees that the winner of the case would become name partner. However, after Alex beats Samantha, Samantha tells Robert to live up to his word anyways, Robert butts head with Harvey, who wishes to appoint Alex. In order to prevent the firm from tearing itself apart, Donna has Louis become the managing partner, who then promotes both Alex and Samantha.
As the firm is officially renamed to Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams, Harvey decides to exact vengeance on Andrew Malik for having Jessica disbarred by representing Jim Allen, a boxing promoter who Malik is investigating and charging for rigging a match for financial benefit. Robert joins the case as well, and they discover that Jim is innocent; Ricky Crosby, one of the fighters, intentionally threw the match in order to gain $2,000,000 (by having his friends bet against him winning) since he has brain damage and wishes to provide for his family. Since Jim's license was revoked and he lost revenue as a result of Malik's prosecution, Harvey and Robert sue Malik on Jim's behalf for compensation under the Wrongful Prosecution Act, and force Malik to issue a public apology for wrongfully prosecuting an innocent man, knowing full well issuing such a declaration would prohibit Malik from being promoted to higher office by his superiors.
Louis is asked by the NYPD to testify against Maurice, the mugger who attacked and robbed him. However, Maurice's lawyer has Louis' testimony deemed inadmissible, and Maurice is exonerated with all charges dropped. Samantha informs Louis that she would break the law to have Maurice arrested, as she and Robert did the same thing to her mugger. Robert pleads with Samantha not to repeat the same course of action and to find another way, fearful that Maurice may be killed the same way Samantha's mugger was. Samantha and Louis discover that Maurice's girlfriend, the mother of his child, is illegally living in public housing and threaten to have her and the child evicted if he does not confess to his crimes, to which he agrees. Following his arrest, Samantha is berated by Robert, who tells her that there are unintended consequences to her actions; Samantha asks Robert to clarify what he means, although he chooses not to divulge what had truly happened to her assailant.
Daniel attempts to have Harvey disbarred for breaking attorney-client privilege. However, Hardman offers to drop the suit if Harvey has him brought back to his firm and made name partner, which Harvey refuses. In order to settle the issue, Robert offers to convince Ellen Rand and Eric Kaldor to have Hardman become a name partner at Rand Kaldor if he drops the case, to which Hardman agrees. However, Eric only agrees to have Hardman as name partner if Zane resigns from Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams, and after Eric makes implications towards Robert's relationship with Samantha, Robert informs Eric that he would settle the matter with Hardman some other way. However, after Harvey has Simon fired, Hardman believes Robert was insincere and informs the New York State Bar's Ethics Committee, triggering a hearing.
At Robert's behest, Alex testifies that it was Robert who broke privilege and not Harvey. Hardman realizes that Robert is taking the blame for Harvey and wonders why he would do such a thing, although Robert makes it seem like he had done so in order to frame Harvey and Louis Litt for having him ousted as managing partner and claims responsibility for it. As consequence, Robert is disbarred and is ordered to forfeit his license to practice law. Samantha asks Robert why he would take the fall for a crime he had not committed, and Robert reveals to Samantha that her mugger was killed the night he was arrested. As a result, he felt guilty all these years for causing a man's death, informing Samantha that he took the blame as a form of redemption.
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He has a complicated relationship with his daughter. Though he loves her dearly, he doesn't understand her decision to work as a paralegal, and wishes to use his influence to help her climb higher up the chain. She refuses his help and insists on "making her own way." Rachel doesn't talk about her father to her coworkers or superiors at Pearson Specter, as people treat her differently when they find out she is Robert Zane's daughter. He is proud of her following his footsteps.
Robert seems initially suspicious of Mike, but no more than any other father meeting his daughter's boyfriend. He warms up quickly though when he sees how much his daughter likes Mike, and how well he gets along with his wife, Laura. He and Mike share a friendly relationship from then on, though it is occasionally bruised by conflicts between Robert's firm with Pearson Specter. When Mike visits him at his country club, he mentions how he has been meaning to get Mike out there to play a round with him. Mike reveals he is there on business, to Zane's disappointment. Though he and Mike don't always see eye to eye on deals and cases, Robert seems to genuinely like Mike and respect his legal prowess. Before he proposes to Rachel, Mike calls Robert to ask for his blessing, which he gives.
Robert and his wife, Laura, share a very close and loving relationship, though she is more supportive than him when it comes to Rachel and her life decisions.
|Suits, Season 2|
|#02||"The Choice"||#10||"High Noon"|
|#03||"Meet the New Boss"||#11||"Blind-Sided"|
|#04||"Discovery"||#12||"Blood in the Water"|
|#05||"Break Point"||#13||"Zane vs. Zane"|
|#06||"All In"||#14||"He's Back"|
|Suits, Season 3|
|#01||"The Arrangement"||#09||"Bad Faith"|
|#02||"I Want You to Want Me"||#10||"Stay"|
|#03||"Unfinished Business"||#11||"Buried Secrets"|
|#04||"Conflict of Interest"||#12||"Yesterday's Gone"|
|#05||"Shadow of a Doubt"||#13||"Moot Point"|
|#06||"The Other Time"||#14||"Heartburn"|
|#07||"She's Mine"||#15||"Know When to Fold 'Em"|
|#08||"Endgame"||#16||"No Way Out"|
|Suits, Season 4|
|#02||"Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner"||#10||"This Is Rome"|
|#03||"Two in the Knees"||#11||"Enough Is Enough"|
|#05||"Pound of Flesh"||#13||"Fork in the Road"|
|#06||"Litt the Hell Up"||#14||"Derailed"|
|#08||"Exposure"||#16||"Not Just a Pretty Face"|
|Suits, Season 5|
|#04||"No Puedo Hacerlo"||#12||"Live to Fight"|
|#05||"Toe to Toe"||#13||"God's Green Earth"|
|#07||"Hitting Home"||#15||"Tick Tock"|
|#08||"Mea Culpa"||#16||"25th Hour"|
|Suits, Season 6|
|#01||"To Trouble"||#09||"The Hand That Feeds You"|
|#03||"Back on the Map"||#11||"She's Gone"|
|#05||"Trust"||#13||"Teeth, Nose, Teeth"|
|#06||"Spain"||#14||"Admission of Guilt"|
|#07||"Shake the Trees"||#15||"Quid Pro Quo"|
|#08||"Borrowed Time"||#16||"Character and Fitness"|
|Suits, Season 7|
|#01||"Skin in the Game"||#09||"Shame"|
|#04||"Divide and Conquer"||#12||"Bad Man"|
|#06||"Home to Roost"||#14||"Pulling the Goalie"|
|#07||"Full Disclosure"||#15||"Tiny Violin"|
|Suits, Season 8|
|#01||"Right-Hand Man"||#09||"Motion to Delay"|
|#02||"Pecking Order"||#10||"Managing Partner"|
|#03||"Promises, Promises"||#11||"Rocky 8"|
|#04||"Revenue Per Square Foot"||#12||"Whale Hunt"|
|#05||"Good Mudding"||#13||"The Greater Good"|
|#06||"Cats, Ballet, Harvey Specter"||#14||"Peas in a Pod"|
|#07||"Sour Grapes"||#15||"Stalking Horse"|
|Suits, Season 9|
|#01||"Everything's Changed"||#06||"Whatever It Takes"|
|#02||"Special Master"||#07||"Scenic Route"|
|#05||"If the Shoe Fits"||#10||"One Last Con"|