Joseph H. Varner III is a partner in Holland & Knight's Tampa office. He is the Practice Group Leader for the Tampa Litigation Group and serves on the firm's Directors Committee.

Mr. Varner is an accomplished trial lawyer who has focused on civil trial practice in Florida for his entire career. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, has been named one of the Top 10 lawyers in Florida by Super Lawyers, has been Board Certified in Civil Trial Law for more than 30 years, and has received numerous other honors and accolades for his professional achievements.

Mr. Varner is experienced in complex commercial litigation, business torts, securities litigation, professional negligence, and personal injury and wrongful death litigation. He has obtained significant jury verdicts and settlements in commercial and personal injury litigation, and has conducted numerous jury trials in state and federal court. Mr. Varner is also a certified mediator in state and federal court, and is a member of the National Association of Distinguished Neutrals.

Mr. Varner has held numerous positions of bar leadership, including President of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and President of the J. Clifford Cheatwood American Inn of Court. He has also been appointed to several positions of service to the courts, including chair of the Middle District of Florida Local Rules Advisory Committee, the Merit Selection Panel for U.S. Magistrates, the Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Group for the Middle District of Florida and Special Counsel for the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission.

In addition to his trial practice and professional activities, Mr. Varner has been active in community and charitable activities his entire career, including Visit Tampa Bay, Copperhead Charities, Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation, the United Way Keel Club, Voices for Children, Metropolitan Ministries, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Leadership Tampa, Leukemia Society/Brooks Brothers Man of the Year, the University of Tampa Board of Counselors, and The Tampa Connection.


  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D.
  • Samford University, B.S.B.A., magna cum laude
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Florida
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • All State Courts in Florida
  • Visit Tampa Bay, Board of Directors, 2011-2013
  • Copperhead Charities, Inc., Board of Directors, 2010-2019
  • Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation, Board of Directors, 2017-2019
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association, Active Member and Trial Lawyers Section Director, 2000-2009, 1991-1992
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association, Judicial Liaison Committee, Chairperson, 2000-2002
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association, Professional Courtesy Committee, 1991-1994
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division President, 1990-1991 and Director, 1988-1990
  • Federal Bar Association, Tampa Bay Chapter, Active Member and President, 2001-2002; President-Elect, 2000-2001; Vice President, 1999-2000; Treasurer, 1998-1999; Secretary, 1997-1998
  • American Bar Association
  • American Association for Justice
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Florida State Committee, 2011-2017
  • J. Clifford Cheatwood Inn of Court, President, 2014-2015
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Local Rules Advisory Committee
Honors & Awards
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 10 Lawyers in Tampa, 2024
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, 1999-2023; Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants, 2016-2023
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, 2006-2024
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 100 Lawyers in Florida, 2006-2024
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 50 Lawyers in Tampa, 2020-2024
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Litigation: General Commercial, 2012-2024
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Award, Hillsborough County Bar Association, 2017
  • Power 100, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2017
  • George C. Carr Memorial Award, Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, 2015
  • Florida Legal Elite Hall of Fame, Florida Trend magazine, 2009-2022
  • Florida Legal Elite, Florida Trend magazine, 2002-2022
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 10 Lawyers in Florida, 2010, 2013-2015, 2017-2020
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association Michael Fogarty Memorial "In the Trenches Award" for Excellence in Civil Litigation, 2006
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated


Speaking Engagements