• Joseph W. Swanson
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Joseph W. Swanson

Joseph W. Swanson



Joe Swanson is a former federal prosecutor who advises clients on a variety of issues related to cybersecurity and privacy. He has investigated and responded to data breaches and similar cyber incidents, and he has defended clients in litigation stemming from those incidents. In addition, Joe advises on best practices for interacting with law enforcement, regulators, and other constituencies in the event of a cyber incident. Joe also assists clients with drafting incident response guides and related cyber policies and procedures, as well as complying with privacy laws and regulations, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

In addition to Joe's privacy and cybersecurity practice, he represents companies and individuals in government and criminal investigations and conducts internal investigations. His experience in this area has encompassed a range of issues, including cybercrime, theft of government property, pharmaceutical marketing, health care, gambling, securities, public company accounting, and compliance with professional standards of conduct. The internal investigations have been prompted by government enforcement proceedings, as well as company-initiated investigations based on suspected wrongdoing by employees, competitors, and other third parties. Joe has experience referring the findings of those investigations to federal prosecutors. 

Joe also defends companies, executives, and directors in shareholder litigation and high-stakes commercial litigation in federal and state court.  These matters have included securities claims, trade secret disputes, and claims for breach of fiduciary duty.  

Before joining the firm, Joe served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. This experience provides the foundation for his practice. As an AUSA, Joe investigated and prosecuted a broad range of offenses, including computer/privacy crimes, obstruction of justice, tax fraud, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. He tried seven cases to verdict and handled hundreds of hearings and other proceedings on behalf of the government. He also served as the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Coordinator in Tampa, where he advised other prosecutors on investigative techniques involving internet and email providers, computers, websites, and other electronic evidence.

In 2017-18, Joe was appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to chair three merit selection panels that recommended appointments for federal magistrate positions. He co-leads the firm’s cybersecurity and privacy practice.

Featured Insights


Cybersecurity and Privacy

  • Defended public entity against putative class action stemming from phishing attack.
  • Represented publicly-traded construction company in investigating and responding to data breaches, which included notifications to individuals and regulators.
  • Represented electronics supplier in investigating and responding to data breach and fraudulent wire transfer scheme.  Engagement included advising on contractual obligations with customers.
  • Represented financial institution in investigating and responding to data breach, which included notifications to consumers and regulators, as well as post-mortem review and analysis.
  • Represented international retailer in investigating and responding to data breach suffered by third-party service provider.
  • Drafted and revised incident response guide and related policies and procedures for telecommunications company.
  • Represented public entity in investigating and responding to data breach. Engagement included coordinating with law enforcement and notifying affected individuals.
  • Represented public entity in investigating and responding to cyber threat. Engagement included vendor contract review and notifying affected individuals.
  • Conducted internal investigation for public company related to insider threat to corporate data.
  • Represented title insurance company in responding to computer-based fraud scheme. Representation included developing best practices for client to reduce threat.
  • Advised clients on compliance with privacy laws and regulations, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

White Collar Crime and Government Investigations

  • Represented software company in responding to federal False Claims Act investigation.
  • Represented construction company in responding to federal contracting investigation.
  • Represented national financial institution in conducting investigation related to grand jury subpoena.
  • Defended pharmaceutical company and its executives in FDA investigation.
  • Defended individual against federal charges stemming from theft of government property.
  • Defended individual in SEC proceeding related to federal criminal conviction.

Securities, Derivative, and Commercial Litigation

  • Represented former pharmaceutical executive in federal litigation involving allegations of federal and state securities violations.
  • Represented former officers and directors of retail company in responding to threatened claims of breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Represented publicly-held insurance company in litigation that included claims of theft of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract.
  • Defended former directors and officers of non-profit organization against claims of breach of fiduciary duty associated with bankruptcy proceeding.
  • Defended six former officers of public company against claims asserted in federal and state court involving securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and other claims totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Represented the special litigation committee of a public company investigating claims involving federal securities violations, breaches of fiduciary duty, insider trading, and an accounting restatement.
  • Represented major insurance company in monitoring and analyzing securities litigation and insider trading investigation involving insureds.
  • Represented executive and corporate entities in garnishment proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
  • Represented pharmaceutical company in federal and state litigation, including multi-district litigation, that involved allegations by state attorneys general and other plaintiffs regarding drug pricing.

Featured Insights

All Insights



  • Listed in Tampa Bay Business Journal , "Up & Comers," (2017)

Professional & Community Involvement

  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Chair
    •  Magistrate Merit Selection Panels (2017-18)
  • The Sedona Conference Working Group
    • Data Security and Privacy Liability
  • Member, Tampa Bay Electronic Crimes Task Force
  • Member, FBI InfraGard, Tampa Chapter
  • Herbert G. Goldburg-Ronald K. Cacciatore Criminal Law American Inn of Court
  • Screening Committee, Clemency Project 2014
  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association

Speaking Engagements

  • “Burglars Don’t Pick Open Locks: Legal Overview and Practical Advice for Managing Data Breach Investigations and Litigation,” Carlton Fields client presentation, New York (June 21, 2018)
  • "Cybersecurity: Don’t be the Next Target," ABA Forum on Construction Law, Ft. Myers, FL (January 19, 2018)
  • “Through the Looking Glass: Tips for Business Litigators Handling D&O Claims in Bankruptcy Court,” ABA Sound Advice Podcast, membership required (October 12, 2017)
  • "Cyber Security Legal Considerations," Florida Institute of CPAs, Tampa, FL (September 26, 2017)
  • “Responding to an Information Security Incident: Lessons from Private Legal Practice,” presentation to the Electronic Crimes Task Force, Tampa Bay Region, Tampa, FL (August 10, 2017)
  • "Is Ransomware the New Normal?" 2017 Florida RIMS Educational Conference, Naples, FL (July 27, 2017)
  • “The Four People to Call When Breached: Practical Techniques to Limit and Shift Cyber Risk,” Client Event with Allied World, Aon, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta (April 6, 2017)
  • Breached! Incident Response Executive Management Wargame,” Carlton Fields In-House Counsel Forum, Orlando, FL (March 3, 2017)
  • "Cyber Security, Wire Transfers and Insurance," The Regulatory Fundamentals Group Webinar (February 28, 2017)
  • "A Red Grenade in the Apple Orchard: Using Insurance to Mitigate Cyber Risk," presentation at Digital Hands’ annual client and partner event, Tampa, FL (January 27, 2017)
  • “An Interactive Data Breach Exercise,” The Sedona Conference Working Group on Data Security and Privacy Liability Annual Meeting, St. Petersburg, FL (January 16, 2017)
  • “Strategic Cyber Defense for Companies: Practical Advice for Living with Cyber Risk,” GulfShore Bank, Digital Hands, and Prida Guida & Company, Tampa, FL (November 10, 2016) 
  • “Stepping Up: Taking Your Compliance Program to the Next Level in an Era of Heightened Government Scrutiny,” presentation part of ACC 2016 Corporate Counsel Summer Symposium, Longboat Key, FL (August 12, 2016)
  • “Incident Response Guide,” The Sedona Conference Working Group on Data Security and Privacy Liability Midyear Meeting, Redmond, WA (August 10, 2016)
  • “Run Across the Rope Bridge: Data Security for Growth-Stage Companies,” presentation to GrowFL, Tampa, FL (August 2, 2016)
  • “Enforcement and Litigation Update,” presentation part of IRI Cybersecurity Forum, Washington (July 19, 2016)
  • “An Introduction to Internal Investigations for Non-Investigators,” CPE/CLE presentation at Protiviti’s CPE conference, “Guidance Through Powerful Insights,” Tampa, FL (June 10, 2016)
  • “Lost Laptops & Tempting Links II: Preparing for Data Breaches & Remaining Vigilant in the Modern Construction Environment,” Construction Financial Management Association breakfast meeting with U.S. Secret Service and Ben Osbrach of Skoda Minotti, Tampa, FL (March 24, 2016).
  • “Developments in Cybersecurity,” Carlton Fields In-House Counsel Forum, Orlando, FL (March 18, 2016)
  • “Legal Fallout of a Breach – Interacting with Law Enforcement, Class Action Litigation, and Fiduciary Duties and Derivative Litigation,” Carlton Fields Client Focus Forum, Minneapolis (February 4, 2016)
  • "Data Breach Response Guide," The Sedona Conference Working Group on Data Security and Privacy Liability Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ (December 2, 2015)
  • "Cybersecurity Today: Threats, Preparedness, and Response," Carlton Fields Third Annual Appellate Forum for Trial Lawyers, Miami (October 23, 2015)
  • “Legal Fallout of a Breach – Class Actions, Shareholder Derivative Actions, and Law Enforcement Issues,” Carlton Fields Client Focus Forum, Denver (October 19, 2015)
  • “Lost Laptops and Tempting Links: Preparing for Data Breaches in the Modern Construction Environment,” Construction Financial Management Association breakfast meeting with U.S. Secret Service and Ben Osbrach of Skoda Minotti, Tampa, FL (July 23, 2015)
  • “IRI Cyber Security Forum,” Insured Retirement Institute’s Government, Legal & Regulatory Conference, Washington (July 1, 2015)
  • “Sharks in the Swimming Pool: Current Topics in Cybersecurity,” Carlton Fields client presentation with John E. Clabby, U.S. Secret Service, and Ben Osbrach of Skoda Minotti, Tampa, FL (June 23, 2015)
  • "Strategies for Data Breach Prevention and Defending Data Breach Class Actions in the Financial Services Industry," Insured Retirement Institute Webinar (March 4, 2015)
  • “Use of Technology in Multi-District Criminal Investigations,” part of “Florida Cybercrime Forum,” St. Petersburg College Center for Public Safety Innovation, St. Petersburg, FL (Dec. 5, 2014)


  • Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., magna cum laude, 2006)
    • Order of the Coif
    • Member of Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics
  • Georgetown University (B.A., magna cum laude, 2001)
    • Phi Beta Kappa
Bar Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • District of Columbia Courts
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
  • Florida State Courts
  • Honorable J. Frederick Motz, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland


  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa, FL (2012-2015)
  • Associate, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington (2007-2011)
  • Summer Associate, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington (2005)
  • Law Clerk, The Honorable J. Frederick Motz, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore (2006-2007)
  • Analyst, Goldman Sachs & Co., New York (2001-2003)


The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.