Credit: Alfredo_Allais/

A partner from Jackson Kelly is hopping firms and state lines, taking his Wheeling, West Virginia-based energy-focused transactional practice to Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel in Pittsburgh.

Michael Hooper, who had been the leader of Jackson Kelly’s land and natural resource development practice, is now part of Obermayer Rebmann’s business and finance department. Obermayer Rebmann was down to a single partner in Pittsburgh before Hooper’s addition.

Hooper had been based in Jackson Kelly’s Wheeling office since he joined the firm in 2003. He said he plans to continue serving his existing clients in Wheeling, while establishing a commercial and energy practice in Pittsburgh, where he said he has not previously focused much attention.

“You’ve got to build. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what I’ve done before, and it’s what I intend to do again,” Hooper said.

Hooper’s practice is in energy and real estate law, business transactions and business formation, including commercial transactions and large mineral title projects for energy providers. Obermayer Rebmann has had “small client needs” for energy-related services, managing partner Mathieu Shapiro said.

“While [oil and gas law] is cyclical, we think it is an opportunity,” Shapiro said. “One of the things we liked about Mike is that … he’s able to do a lot of other things too.”

Obermayer Rebmann does have an environmental practice, led by partner Joseph McGovern, that represents clients in federal and state regulatory matters.

Hooper said his practice is 100 percent energy focused when oil and gas prices are high, but when things slow down he works for a number of clients on commercial transactions. He declined to name any of his clients.

There’s an awful lot of consolidation going on right now [in oil and gas], which I think is healthy,” he said. “We’re not where we were a few years ago, when it was a total boom, but I think we’re in a good place.”

Not including Hooper, Obermayer Rebmann’s Pittsburgh office has one partner, Bruce Fox, and three associates, all litigators. Adding Hooper is part of the firm’s plans to rebuild its Pittsburgh office, which was larger historically, Shapiro said. The firm opened that office in 1997, bringing on three members of the local firm Lieber Lieber & Tarantine, all of whom have since left Obermayer Rebmann.

“This puts us back to more full-service ability in Pittsburgh,” Shapiro said, noting that the firm plans to make further hires in the city.

The firm’s greater strategy is to expand its offices outside of Philadelphia, where it is headquartered, he said. Earlier this year, the firm opened a suburban Philadelphia office in Bucks County.