Families First
To Steven G. Wigrizer, a partner with Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller, his clients’ families are as important as his own
by Leigh Stuart

Steven G. Wigrizer has been a practitioner of law since 1979, but he got his start in the world of justice when he was just a boy. His roots growing up in his family’s East Oak Lane home in the Olney section of Philadelphia had a major impact on him during his youth.

“We played stick ball, wire ball, hand ball, half ball and I played a lot of baseball at the Olney Recreation Center,” recalls Wigrizer, partner in the nearly 40-year-old firm of Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller. “We didn’t have referees and we had to argue our position, which, I believe, is where I began honing my skills. It was not in my nature to back down, and I loved to negotiate. I didn’t realize at the time, but I learned that everyone needed to get something in a good deal. I learned to settle disputes and stand up for myself.”

Wigrizer took this gumption through school. A proud product of Philadelphia’s public schools system, Wigrizer went to Thomas K. Finletter School and then Central High School. Next, he attended Pennsylvania State University, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. His next step was a logical one, considering his formative years: He chose to pursue a career in law and attended Boston University School of Law.

“When I came out of law school, I knew I wanted to be involved in an area of law that involved direct contact with people,” he says. “I had done more than my share of legal research; I had spent many hours in the law school library, and I had a strong desire to get involved with people directly. More importantly, people who were not in a position to hire quality legal help, and I found that the area I wound up with perfectly served my goals.”

This area, it turns out, was personal injury. He landed a job with a law firm—the same one he has been with for nearly 40 years. “I was one of the first associates in the firm, known at the time as Wapner and Newman,” he says. “I have worked here continuously for 38 years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it, I might add.”

Today, Wigrizer continues to carry on with the early lessons he learned at the Olney Rec Center by standing up for his clients every day in a variety of legal matters, ranging from personal injury to catastrophic death.

“We take tough cases,” Wigrizer says. “We don’t shy away from hard work. When I get involved in a case, I am determined to be successful.”

The firm is best known for medical cases—namely, those involving serious harm due to medical errors. However, Wigrizer maintains an active construction litigation caseload, and he has handled numerous cases involving defective machinery, unsafe building design and material failures.

“I have handled every imaginable type of serious injury case, but the most rewarding involve injured children whose entire future is dependent on the outcome of the cases we bring,” he says. “When I see what parents have to go through, raising and worrying about seriously disabled kids, or when I speak with someone who is battling cancer that wasn’t diagnosed in time, I am reminded of how fortunate I am. It puts the everyday issues we deal with into perspective.

“Fundamentally, I am a people person,” Wigrizer says. “I represent CEOs and cab drivers. Everyone has something to offer. I love listening to life stories. I want to understand all of the details of a family’s personal history and accomplishments. I also get to know my opponents and try to understand what makes them tick—I find this helps me get my clients what they deserve.”

It’s not just his clients’ lives he seeks to improve, however; he works extensively with nonprofit organizations, including the Wounded Warrior Project. He even performs at charitable events with the band he drums for—the Trevor Street Band—to raise money for organizations, particularly those benefiting veterans.

Above and beyond all this, Wigrizer puts family first—his own, and his clients’. “I think, first and foremost, I’m a family man,” says Wigrizer, who has been married to his wife, Debbie, for 38 years and is a father of five children, who range in age from 19 to 33.

This family-centric approach applies to the office itself, as well. The firm focuses always on doing what’s best for clients and their families, and goes so far as to consider its in-house team as a family of sorts as well. For example, Wigrizer credits his secretary Debra Adams and paralegal Diane Steffa, who have been in their respective professions for more than 30 years each, as being integral to his success at the firm.

“I have to admit that despite whatever talent I may have, none of it would work without my excellent staff,” he notes. “And I’m surrounded by talented attorneys, my partners—Marc Brecher, Robert Miller, Adam Getson and David Sternberg—and my associates, in particular, the associate that works most closely with me, Jason Weiss.”

All of this passion and drive for doing what’s right seeps into every corner of the law offices of Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller. The firm’s goal, as Wigrizer says, is “to provide our families with the compensation that they need and deserve.”

“We represent a lot of families that come to us generation after generation, and I think a lot of that has to do with the family feel we have here,” he adds. “We represent many families in large part because we treat our clients like family. From the moment they walk in the door, our clients know that they have come home.”

Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller

2000 Market Street, Suite 2750
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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8000 Sagemore Drive, Suite 8302
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Photograph by Jeff Anderson