Emilius Irving Recipient: Robert Hooper

by: Mary Grosso

Robert J. Hooper, “Rob” as he’s known by his colleagues, friends and family, founder of the firm that is now Grosso Hooper Law, has practiced law in Hamilton since 1994.  Since then his work has been devoted almost entirely to fighting for victims, whether victims of negligence or victims of intentional assault.
As he built a formidable record of successes in court over these decades, Rob did not stop at just his work for his own clients.  From the outset, Rob has served the Hamilton legal community through efforts like sharing his knowledge for continuing professional development, serving for years on the board of trustees for The Hamilton Law Association, as its President in 2018-2019, and working on the planning committee for the annual Sopinka Luncheon, to raise funds from the legal community for the United Way. The legal work of many colleagues have also benefited directly from his keen ear and generous spirit of mentorship.

Perhaps more notably, Rob also has a long history of active charity in the wider community.  He has helped a variety of local charities like Big Brothers & Big Sisters and Living Rock in Hamilton, plus global initiatives like Live Different (engaging youth in service to others) and Walk with Me (an organization focused on education about and eradication of human trafficking).  He does not just make charitable donations; he offers countless hours to be boots on the ground in support of the charitable organizations with whom he works. 

Rob is quick to credit those who have motivated and facilitated his growth over all of these years: his mother and siblings in New Brunswick who sacrificed so that he could go to law school, his mentors in the Hamilton legal community who gave him the foundations on which to build his own litigation skills, and some key individuals who are the target of the charities he works with who motivated him to action. 

Rob was recently recognized for his accomplishments by being awarded the Emilius Irving Award at the Hamilton Law Association’s Annual Dinner.  This award, unlike the dinner, is not an annual event, it is awarded only from time to time.  Rob is among a distinguished group of now only 16 recipients since 1987.

The award is intended to honour a member of The Hamilton Law Association who has made an outstanding contribution towards furthering the goals of The Hamilton Law Association through participation in association activities, service to the legal community, contributions to academia, continuing professional development, and contributions to the community generally.  

Rob is humble about the honour: “Although my personal reasons for giving back are not the hope of being recognized, I’m honoured to be named among the previous recipients who have been an inspiration to me, and I realize and hope that maybe this acknowledgement of my work will encourage another person to give their time and money to others.” 

Timea Nagy, a survivor of human trafficking and the founder of Walk With Me, says of Rob, “I most definitely couldn’t have done any of the work that I am doing today if it wasn’t for Mr. Hooper’s unconditional love and dedication to me and the cause. He doesn’t just mentor me and many other young vulnerable people. He becomes a father figure to many of us. He forces us to do better, to move forward in life no matter where we came from.” 

Rob’s approach, to both his career achievements and his charitable efforts, seems to have quite naturally led to this accomplishment.