A Five Decade Commitment to Justice
Nearly a half century ago, the beginnings of what is now Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb LLC formed a new law firm whose chief purpose is to specialize in civil rights litigation so that those who cannot afford a good lawyer can have equal access to the same high quality of legal representation as the corporations and governments who mistreat them—to “level the playing field” in access to quality lawyers in the historic hotbed of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama at a difficult time in the nation’s history. For nearly five decades, the firm’s lawyers have provided such representation to persons who cannot afford to pay for it on their own.
The law firm began in 1975 when Bob Wiggins opened a one-lawyer practice that focused on challenging systemic racial and sexual discrimination in employment opportunities as well as other civil rights violations. Over the next ten years, the practice steadily grew larger with the addition of Bob Childs and Mike Quinn and the eventual merger in 1985 with the firm in which Dennis Pantazis was litigating similar issues of consumer rights. This set the stage for what would become the firm’s nationally recognized practice in social justice litigation. By 1990, the firm arguably had the largest number of lawyers in the United States practicing in that field of law.
Far surpassing the size of typical firms handling such cases with a limited number of attorneys and resources, Wiggins Childs has had more than thirty attorneys working tirelessly for more than thirty years for clients who have been the consistent underdogs in their cases. Through hard work, Wiggins Childs has kept its main office in Birmingham and gradually added offices in Washington D.C. in 1998 and subsequently in Florida.
As the firm has grown, so has the type of cases it litigates on behalf of persons who cannot afford to pay an attorney on their own. In addition to its longstanding commitment to challenging race and sex discrimination in employment settings, the firm has developed a similar focus challenging disability and age discrimination, the treatment of children with special needs in schools, hostile work and school environments, sexual harassment on the job, and international terrorist attacks. As Dennis Pantazis puts it: “The focus of the firm is, and has always been, to catch those who fall through the cracks without decent representation.” The firm’s early commitment to making a difference in how people are treated in their jobs, communities and the courts of this country grew out of the founding members’ experiences in having to live and work in the racially segregated South of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
The firm has been widely recognized for its success and skill in representing their clients. For more than twenty-five years, Bob Wiggins, Dennis Pantazis and other founding members of the law firm have been rated each year by other attorneys as among the best lawyers in the nation in Best Lawyers In America. Younger attorneys in the firm have also earned that distinction over the years. The firm as a whole has been recognized nationally for its prominent work in civil rights and class action lawsuits, including being selected by The National Law Journal as one of the “25 Go To Firms” and being named one of the top law firms in the country by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”.
After the passing of co-founder Bob Childs earlier this year, Bob Wiggins and Dennis Pantazis remain the two founding members of the firm still in practice today. The longevity of their careers within the firm can be linked to not only a passion for their field of practice, but also working well with each other. Thinking back over the years, Bob Wiggins recounts that “everyone gets along, we’ve never had to vote on anything. We just discuss it and work towards a consensus on what should be done for the good of everyone”. Such a team commitment allows tremendous energy and talent to be brought to bear on the main mission of the firm—to provide access to high- quality representation so that clients who cannot afford such representation may prevail in their cases.