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 he serves on the firm's Directors Committee.  

Mr. Varner is an experienced and accomplished trial lawyer and 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 Florida Super Lawyers, and has been Board Certified In Civil Trial Law for more than 20 years. Mr. Varner has received much other recognition for his professional accomplishments, including Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers In America, and the Florida Trend Legal Elite Hall of Fame.  Mr. Varner is also the recipient of the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Michael Fogarty Memorial In The Trenches Award for excellence in civil litigation.

Mr. Varner is experienced in complex commercial litigation, business torts, securities litigation, professional negligence, and personal injury and wrongful death litigation. Mr. Varner 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.

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, 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-present
  • 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, 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
  • J. Clifford Cheatwood Inn of Court, Immediate Past President
  • United States District Court Middle District of Florida, Local Rules Advisory Committee
Honors & Awards
  • Top Lawyers, Tampa Magazine, Professional Malpractice Law: Defendants, 2018
  • Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Award, Hillsborough County Bench/Bar, 2017
  • Power 100, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2017
  • George C. Carr Memorial Award, Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, 2015
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, 1999-2020; Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants, 2016-2020  
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Litigation: General Commercial, 2012-2019
  • Florida Legal Elite Hall of Fame, Florida Trend magazine, 2009-2019
  • Florida Legal Elite, Florida Trend magazine, 2002-2019
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, 2006-2019
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 10 Lawyers in Florida, 2010, 2013-2015, 2017, 2018 
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 100 Lawyers in Florida, 2006-2015, 2017, 2018 
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, Top 50 in Tampa, 2015, 2017 
  • 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