Katherine Dawson Varholak
Katherine Dawson Varholak


Phone: 303.299.8428

Fax: 303.298.0940


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Legal Secretary

Theresa Bohrer

Areas of Emphasis

Insurance Recovery

Litigation, Trials and Appeals

Corporate Governance and Investigations

Trust and Estate Litigation


  • Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, University of Michigan Law School, 2000
    • Order of the Coif
    • Executive Notes Editor, Michigan Law Review
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Yale University, 1995

Katie Varholak is a Member and Chair of the firm’s Litigation, Trials and Appeals Practice Group. She has more than seventeen years of experience representing companies and individuals in all manner of civil litigation. Her primary areas of focus include: insurance recovery, trust and estate controversies, corporate internal investigations, construction law and appellate litigation. In her insurance recovery practice, she represents corporate and individual policy holders in pursuing insurance benefits and pursuing legal action when the insurers refuse to pay benefits. Katie has advised clients concerning virtually every type of commercial insurance policy, including general liability, directors and officers liability, property, builder’s risk, excess/umbrella, disability, crime, cyber risk, inland marine and others. Prior to joining Sherman & Howard, Katie spent several years at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she represented federal government agencies in federal appeals across the country.

Representative Matters

Insurance Recovery

  • In 2014-15, obtained more than $24M in insurance proceeds for corporate clients in construction related bad faith disputes.
  • Obtained multi-million dollar bad faith jury verdict, including double damages and attorneys’ fees, against general liability carrier for its unreasonable delay and denial of coverage for damages arising out of a construction accident.
  • On behalf of developer, obtained $1.65M settlement from insurance carriers for contractors responsible for defective construction.
  • Secured a defense against litigation and complete coverage from liability carrier for a settlement concerning wrongful death at a retirement facility.
  • Obtained $1 million default judgment against an insurer in connection with a claim for coverage of a construction defect dispute.

Corporate Internal Investigations

  •   Independent investigation for Douglas County School Board alleging Director misconduct.
  •   Special Committee and other corporate investigations.

Trust & Estate Litigation

  •  On behalf of trustee, obtained summary judgment in dispute over validity of competing trust documents.
  • On behalf of beneficiaries, obtained judgment against fiduciary in compensation request, including attorneys’ fees and costs awarded against fiduciary.
  • On behalf of Personal Representative, prevailed in will contest and challenge to appointment as personal representative.

Appellate Litigation

  •  Prevailed against insurer in appeal of bad faith verdict under Colorado bad faith statute and in cross appeal of attorney-fee issues.
  • Handled appellate briefing and argument in multiple federal and state appeals involving insurance, construction, and commercial litigation, including petitions for certiorari to state and federal supreme courts.
  • Prevailed in federal appeal in favor of subcontractor in bidding dispute with general contractor.
Professional Activities
  • Admitted Pennsylvania, 2000 (inactive); Admitted Colorado, 2004
  • Chair, Litigation, Trials and Appeals Practic Group 2016-present
  • Board Member, Stanley British Primary School Board of Trustees, 2016-present
  • President Elect, Stanley British Primary School Board of Trustees, 2018-2019
  • Associate, Recruiting and Development Member 2014-2016
  • Faculty, National Institute of Trial Advocacy, 2016-present
  • Girl Scout Troop Leader, 2013-2017
  • Yale Alumni Interviewer, 2013-2015
  • Site Coordinator, Girls on the Run, 2016-2017
  • Member, Colorado Women’s Bar Association, 2003-present
  • Co-Chair, Sherman & Howard Women’s Initiative, 2014
  • Member, ABA Appellate Subcommittee on Rules and Statutes, 2009-2012
  • Admitted to practice before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
Honors and Awards
  • Best Lawyer; Litigation – Insurance
    The Best Lawyers in America
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Listed as a Rising Star in Colorado 
    Super Lawyers
  • Special Commendation Award for Outstanding Service
    U.S. Department of Justice
Publications and Presentations



  • Co-presenter, “Drones in Construction: Keep Your Drones From Going Rogue,” Webinar, ConstructionPro Network, October 2017
  • Presenter, “Using Insurance as an Asset to Resolve Construction Claims,” Lockton Law Day, August 2017
  • Presenter, “Cyber Risk Mitigation Through Insurance,” Colorado Lawyers Committee, Colorado Non-Profit Legal Clinic, July 2017
  • Co-presenter, Small Unmanned Aerial Systems: Keep Your Drones From Going Rogue, Sherman & Howard Construction Law Webinar, July 2017.
  • Presenter, Insurance Update: Emerging Tactics to Avoid Paying Your Claim, Sherman & Howard Annual Colorado Construction Law Seminar, February 2017.
  • Presenter, CBA’s Hot Topics in CGL Insurance, October 2016.
  • Co-presenter, Construction Defects and Multi-Family Developments, Sherman & Howard Construction Law Webinar, September 2016.
  • Presenter, OCIPs and CCIPs: That’s a Wrap!, Sherman & Howard Annual Colorado Construction Law Seminar, February 2016.
  • Presenter, Stuck in the Middle with You: An Insurance Coverage Update, Sherman & Howard Annual Colorado Construction Seminar, February 2015.
  • Panelist, Stay Ahead of the Curve: Protect Your Company From Cyber Risk, CoBiz Insurance, October 2013.
  • Presenter, Space, Cyber and Procurement Law, Colorado Springs, November 2013.
  • Panelist, Data Security for Modern Businesses, Co-Sponsored By Denver Business Journal and Sherman & Howard, August 2013.


  • Author, “Top Ten Ways To Manage Cyber Risk, The Rise of The Internet Has Its Downside,” CoBiz Magazine, March 7, 2013.
  • Author, “Top Ten Ways To Manage Cyber Risk,” JDSupra Business Advisor, January 22, 2013.
  • Tool Box Presenter, The Ins And Outs Of Construction Defect Coverage And Liability Claims, ABA 21st Annual Insurance Coverage Committee 2013 Mid-Year Program- Phoenix.
  • Author, “Statutes Defining Faulty Workmanship As An “Occurrence” – Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire?” ABA 21st Annual Insurance Coverage Committee 2013 Mid-Year Program.
  • Co-presenter, Risks To The Confidentiality And Integrity of Your Cyber Data, Financial Executives International, November 2012.
  • Author, “Practical Impediments to Obtaining Review of an Inter-Circuit Transfer Under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a): ABA Section of Litigation, Appellate Practice Journal, Winter 2010 Edition, Vol. 29, No. 2.
Previous Experience
  • Judicial Clerk for the Honorable Arthur L. Alarcon, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2000
  • Appellate Staff Attorney, Attorney General’s Honors Program, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, 2001-2003