Our Law Firm was founded in 2005 by Attorney Jeff Appel. Prior to that, Jeff worked for ten years as a founding partner of Harbsmeier, DeZayas & Appel, but began his career with Holland & Knight in 1993. Attorney Trey Harden also worked at Holland & Knight and joined Jeff at his successor firm making it Harbsmeier, DeZayas, Appel & Harden in 1999. Trey and Jeff teamed up again in 2013 to create the APPEL HARDEN LAW GROUP.
The firm’s goal is to remain personal yet offer professional product, which mandates that the law firm not grow out of control despite the growing need for legal services in the firm’s practice areas.

The law firm’s offices are located in Lakeland Florida, representing clients throughout every jurisdiction in the state. We concentrate our practice on workers’ comp trials and appeals, but also handle workers’ compensation insurance coverage cases, exclusive remedy litigation, MSHA matters, general liability litigation and civil cases.

Our attorneys are committed to being the most focused and respected trial attorneys in their respective areas of law. We believe that after reviewing the resumes of our attorneys and meeting our team, you will agree.

Claude M. Harden, III, Esquire, (Trey)


Claude M. Harden, III, Esquire, (Trey), attended the University of Florida and Florida Southern College where he received his Bachelor of Science in 1988 in political science. Trey attended Stetson University College of Law and earned his law degree in 1991.

Following law school, Trey briefly worked as an assistant public defender before going into private practice with Boswell, Stidham, Purcell, Wilson, Conner & Brewer, P.A. In 1993, Trey began focusing his practice on the representation of clients in workers’ compensation matters, and he has since expanded his practice to include representation of clients in all employment law related matters.

In 2001, he became a partner at Harbsmeier, DeZayas, Appel & Harden, LLP, and he continued to concentrate in workers' compensation law. In 2002, Trey moved to Tallahassee, Florida and opened the firm’s Tallahassee office.

Trey returned to his hometown of Lakeland, Florida in 2013 to join Jeff in the firm now known as the Appel Harden Law Group. Trey continues to practice workers' compensation litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

When not practicing law, Trey enjoys competing in professional BBQ competitions, cooking with his wife Terri, hunting and fishing.

Trey can be contacted through email at or by telephone at (850) 556-4129.

Jeffrey E. Appel, Esquire


Jeffrey E. Appel, Esquire attended the University of Florida where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1989, his Master of Arts in Sociology in 1993 and his law degree in 1993.

Jeff has practiced workers’ compensation law for over 20 years. His first job was with Holland & Knight, LLP, where he practiced workers' compensation exclusively. He left H&K to become a founding member of Harbsmeier, DeZayas & Appel, LLP. As a partner with the firm, Jeff continued to concentrate his practice in trial work for workers' compensation cases and appellate law.

In 2005, Jeff started the firm now known as the Appel Harden Law Group where he continues to practice workers' compensation litigation and appellate law. Jeff also devotes time to civil trial work involving workers’ compensation issues such as exclusive remedy/immunity. Jeff is a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in workers’ compensation. He has an “AV-Preeminent” rating, the highest peer ranking possible, from Martindale-Hubble. Jeff currently serves the Workers’ Compensation Executive Council as editor-in-chief of the section’s newsletter, The News & 440 Report. He also regularly serves as an expert in the area of workers’ compensation attorney’s fees and writes amicus briefs for various organizations involved in workers’ compensation matters. Outside of work, Jeff can be found fishing, diving or enjoying outdoor activities with his wife Nikki and their five children.

Jeff can be contacted through email at or by telephone at (863) 712-2945.