600 17th Street, Suite 600N

Denver, CO 80202

Joel N. Varnell, Of Counsel

Joel Varnell Of Counsel

Joel Varnell joined the firm as of counsel after serving for 20 years as the manager of the Farmers Insurance Branch Legal Office for Colorado. While Joel served in that position, the Farmers Branch Legal Office grew from two attorneys to 11, and defended Farmers and its insureds in cases throughout Colorado involving personal injuries from auto accidents, homeowners incidents, claims against commercial establishments and claims for construction defects and workers compensation related injuries. The office completed over 400 jury trials during his tenure as managing attorney. Joel has personally participated in approximately 45 jury trials and 75 uninsured/underinsured motorist claim arbitrations, and has briefed and argued cases in Colorado appellate courts. Joel started his career in 1981 at Johns-Manville defending asbestos related litigation, then went to the Denver firm of Wood, Ris & Hames in 1982 where he became a partner in 1986. He was the founding member of a firm in 1990 before moving on in 1992 to Farmers. He served on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Defense Lawyers Association for approximately nine years, served as the coordinator and an instructor for the CDLA Trial School, and received a lifetime achievement award from that organization in 2008. He is a former member of the First Judicial District Board of Trustees and board member in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.


  • University of Denver College of Law, J.D., 1981
    • Recipient of academic scholarship, 1979-80, 1980-81
  • Colorado State University, B.S., 1978, Business Administration (Finance)
    • Member of Financial Honorary Society, 1977
    • Recipient of Dave Gormely Award as the outstanding scholar-athlete in track and field, 1977-78
  • Rice University, 1974-75
    • Dean’s List, 1974-75
    • Athletic Scholarship
  • Attended International Association of Insurance Counsel Trial Academy, 1986
  • Attended Farmers Insurance Presidential Leadership Program, July, 2011


  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • Colorado state courts


  • Colorado Bar Association
  • First Judicial District Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute, Member of Product Liability Division
  • Colorado Defense Lawyers Association


  • Coauthor of “Trends in Fighting Fraudulent Insurance Claims”, Colorado Lawyer, March 1992
  • Author of “Colorado No-Fault Insurance Law Court Rulings, 1994-1995” for Colorado Claims Association Newsletter
  • Outline titled “The Inapplicability or Reduction of Punitive Damages in Asbestos Litigation” published for seminar sponsored by Defense Research Institute in Chicago, Sept. 1981
  • Author of “Forming a Homeowner’s Association” published in Community Associates Institute News, Aug. 1989
  • Author of “A Proposal to Improve Juror Quality” published in For the Defense, Sept. 1988
  • Amicus curiae brief on behalf of Colorado Defense Lawyers Association in State Farm v. Kastner, Case No. 02 SC 258
  • Panel presentation on the tripartite relationship, CDLA annual seminar, 2005
  • Overview of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) presented to National Farmers Insurance Managing Attorneys Conference, 2003
  • Co-Presenter to Colorado Claims Association on depositions of claims representatives in bad faith cases, October 11, 2013

Martindale Hubbell “AV” Rating

Practice Areas

Auto/Trucking Law
Commercial Litigation
Construction Defect Litigation
Energy and Utility
Legal Malpractice
Personal Injury and Property Damage Defense
Product Liability
Professional Liability