Our History

For years, downtown Tampa knew when we had won a substantial verdict for our client. We signaled the occasion with the loud blow of a train whistle mounted atop our three-story office building. While the whistle was removed during a subsequent renovation, our enthusiasm for client victories has not waned but remains as strong and vital as ever.

When Bill Wagner, Tony Cunningham, and Roger Vaughan opened the firm in 1967, the modest storefront at 412 Pierce Street gave little hint of its rich heritage. All three partners had practiced with a law firm in Miami headed by the legendary Perry Nichols, the pioneer of personal injury law and the first attorney to win a $100,000 verdict in Florida. The legal legacy and brotherhood of the Perry Nichols firm has helped to produce virtually all of the state’s most widely-known personal injury trial attorneys, including presidents of the American Bar Association, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and The Florida Bar, as well as federal and state judges.

In search of additional space, the partners soon bought a nearby boarding house and a two-story building that had seen earlier service as a bicycle manufacturing plant, gas station, and plumbing parts store. Together, the buildings were renovated in 1976 — the same year admiralty lawyer John McLaughlin became a firm partner — using a simple yet distinctive Spanish architecture and design appropriate to Tampa’s historical culture. The complex served for decades as the firm’s recognizable downtown office, just a block from the courthouse, until the office closed in 2012.

Meanwhile, growth of the firm throughout the years led to the opening, in 1992, of a second office — this one on Bayshore Boulevard, overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay. From the beginning, both the downtown and Bayshore offices were equal in the number and strength of attorneys and staff. With the retirement of Roger Vaughan in 2014, the firm changed its name to the current “Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore.”

Today, the firm’s office on Bayshore continues to represent the exciting intersection between the firm’s distinguished past and its vital future, housing six experienced trial lawyers, all well-respected leaders in the profession, as well as a strong team of legal assistants, paralegals, and investigators, ready to fight for you.