Attorney At Law
Direct Line: 813.606.4533
Fax Line: 813.606.4500
Administrative Law, Business Litigation, Civil and Criminal Appeals, Civil Rights, Complex State and Federal Litigation, Criminal Law and Criminal Defense, Employment, Estate Planning, Family Law, Personal Injury, Wills and Trusts
Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina (1988 – 1991) Juris Doctor
Distinctions: Ranking Scholar: Understanding Tort Law; & Ranking Scholar: Understanding Insurance Law.
Activities: Competitor, Hardt Cup Moot Court Competition; Competitor, Dean’s Cup Moot Court Competition; Dean’s Advisory Council; International Law Society; and Admissions Committee.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1984 – 1988)
A.B., With Distinction (Magna Cum Laude), With Honors in Philosophy
Distinctions: Phi Beta Kappa; Dean’s List (Spring, 1985; Fall 1985; Spring 1986; Fall 1986; Spring 1987; Fall 1987; Spring 1988); Outstanding College Students of America; Magnum Oratory Competition, First Runner-Up; Worth Award for Excellence in Philosophy, First Runner-Up; and Honors Thesis: “Building More Lifeboats: A Reevaluation of Hardin”, published in the U.N.C. Library System.
Activities: 1984 Asian Studies Program, Ewha University, Seoul, South Korea; Alumni Advisory Board; Yearbook Sales Manager; Asian Students Association; and Reader for the Blind.
Bar and Court Admissions
- The Florida Bar
- United States District Court, Middle District of Florida
- The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
- The North Carolina Bar
- The Georgia Bar
- The District of Columbia Bar
Joseph “Hwan-Yul” Lee was born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in Morganton, North Carolina. A cum laude graduate of The Asheville School, Joseph stayed in North Carolina throughout college and law school. Joseph attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving his A.B., With Distinction (Magna Cum Laude) and Honors in Philosophy, in 1988. Most notably, while at U.N.C.: Joseph made the Dean’s List seven times; was a member of Phi Beta Kappa – the oldest academic fraternity in the country, accepting less than 1% of eligible students; was named among other prestigious Outstanding College Students of America; and graduated With Distinction (Magna Cum Laude), and With Honors in Philosophy. A philosophy buff, Joseph completed his honors thesis, entitled “Building More Lifeboats: A Reevaluation of Hardin”, now a permanent part of U.N.C.’s Library System.
Joseph went on to attend the prestigious Duke University School of Law in Duham, North Carolina. He received his Juris Doctorate Degree in 1991. While at Duke, Joseph sat on the Dean’s Advisory Council, was a member of the International Law Society and the Admissions Committee. He excelled at Moot Court, competing in both the Hardt Cup Moot Court
Competition, as well as the Dean’s Cup Moot Court Competition, before being named a Ranking Scholar twice: Understanding Tort Law; and Understanding Insurance Law.
After graduating from Duke University School of Law, Joseph moved to Florida to accept a Judicial Clerkship position with the Honorable Harry Lee Anstead of the Fourth District Court of Appeals, and former Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. Joseph then spent an additional year serving as a Judicial Clerk to the Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo, United States District Court Judge, Southern District of Georgia.
Joseph’s legal career in the Tampa Bay area began in 1994 at the Office of the Attorney General, where Joseph served as an Assistant Attorney General from 1994 – 2001. Joseph started in the Criminal Appeals Bureau, before being assigned to the Civil Trial Unit in 1996. While serving as an Assistant Attorney General, Joseph received five Letters of Commendation and three Letters of Appreciation.
In 2001, Joseph went on to accept a position as an Assistant State Attorney with the State Attorney’s Office for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, in Citrus and Hernando Counties. He served his entire time with the State as a Felony Prosecutor.
After a brief foray into private practice as a Partner with a Brooksville Law Firm, Joseph returned to the Attorney General’s Office in Tampa, Florida, where he served a nine-year-term as an Assistant Attorney General. Joseph spent three years in the Civil Trial Unit, and six more in the Criminal Appeals Division. During this time, Joseph received three Letters of Commendation. Joseph also argued before the Florida Supreme Court during this tenure, an accomplishment experienced by a small number of Florida’s legal elite.
In 2013, Joseph went on to serve as an Assistant Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit, in Hillsborough County, Florida. Joseph’s prestigious career as an APD included serving both as a Felony Attorney and Senior Felony Attorney for the Juvenile Bureau. He received four Letters of Commendation and two Letters of Appreciation while with the Public Defender’s Office for the 13th Judicial Circuit.
Finally, in 2017, Joseph joined Lee & Lazzara, PLLC, as the Managing Partner for the Firm’s Litigation Department. Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge in almost every area of civil, criminal and family law – in both trial and appellate practice – including: Complex State and Federal Litigation and Trial Practice; Civil Rights; Employment; State and Federal Civil and Criminal Appeals; Personal Injury; Family Law; Estate Planning; Business Planning; and Criminal Defense.
Joseph not only brings a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to Lee & Lazzara’s Litigation Team, but also adds a level of personal passion unequalled in his practice areas. This commitment stems from personal experience with medical negligence when his daughter, Emmy, was born in 2005, with severe and permanent special-needs stemming from human error.
Joseph understands – firsthand – the impact of negligence, and the force of law that it takes to effect real, positive change
in a person’s life.
Born of Korean immigrant parents, Joseph is a proud second-generation Korean-American. He dedicates a large part of his practice to his personal crusade of bridging the intra-generational and inter-cultural gap existing in today’s Asian-American Culture. This includes working closely with Asian-American business owners and professionals in areas including complex business and corporate planning, trusts and estates, and risk aversion.
In his free time, Joseph enjoys spending time with his daughters Mackenzie and Emmy.
Joseph has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1994 and is admitted to the Middle District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Joseph is also a member of the Georgia Bar, District of Columbia Bar, and North Carolina Bar.
Professional and Community Affiliations
- Martindale-Hubbell, Distinguished (1997 – Present)
- American Inns of Court, West Palm Beach (1991 – 1993)
- American Inns of Court, Tampa (2010 – 2011)
- Received four Letters of Commendation and two Letters of Appreciation while serving as an Assistant Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit from 2013 – 2017.
- Received three Letters of Commendation while serving as an Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Attorney General of Florida from 2003 – 2012.
- Received five Letters of Commendation and three Letters of Appreciation while serving as an Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Attorney General of Florida from 1994 – 1996.
- Employment Discrimination in the Business Law Environment. University of Tampa, John Sykes School of Business.
- Human Rights. University of North Carolina, Asian Students Association.
- Admissions and Recruiting. Duke University School of Law, Alumni and Admissions Forums.
- World Geography. Carolina Summer, University of North Carolina.
- Nursing Class Speaker. Shriners Hospitals for Children, Philadelphia.
- Researched, authored, and published more than 100 opinions and orders for the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and Federal District Court, Middle District of Florida.
- Building More Lifeboats: A Reevaluation of Hardin. Published in the U.N.C. Library System.
Civic Service and Recognition
- Provide unheralded support for families with special-needs children.
- Reader for the blind.