Douglas N. Varley
Caplin & Drysdale
Douglas N. Varley Member

P: (202) 862-7818

F: (202) 429-3301

Washington, D.C. Office


Mr. Varley's practice focuses principally on advising exempt organizations, in particular, private foundations. He has guided the design of major grantmaking programs and participated in the development of national public educational campaigns targeted on a range of significant policy issues. In addition to helping a diverse array of nonprofit organizations comply with the rules governing lobbying and political activities, his areas of concentration also include such matters as international philanthropy, restrictions on executive compensation, transactions with for-profit organizations, and minimizing unrelated business income tax. Before embarking on his legal career, Mr. Varley administered grantmaking programs for college and university faculty at the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Professional Activities

Mr. Varley has served on the Board of Trustees of several national nonprofit organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the NRDC Action Fund, and Earthjustice. He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center.

Practice Area(s)

Awards & Rankings

  • The Legal 500, Leading Lawyer, 2011 and 2013; Recommended, 2014-2017
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2013-Present
  • American Bar Association Outstanding Nonprofit Lawyer, 2019

Recent News

Click here for a full list of media coverage.

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, Fifty Years after the 1969 Tax Act: Reflecting on the History and Future of Private Foundations, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, November 20, 2019
  • Panelist, World Recognition of Distinguished General Counsel: Honoring Joshua Mintz & the Law Department of the MacArthur Foundation, The Directors Roundtable, October 24, 2018
  • Panelist, Managing Complex Grantmaking Issues, 2018 Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations, Georgetown University Law Center, April 27, 2018
  • Panelist, Advocacy Outside the United States, American Bar Association Section of Taxation 2018 Midyear Meeting, February 9, 2018
  • Panelist, Advanced Self-Dealing Issues, 33rd Annual Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations, Georgetown University Law Center, April 29, 2016
  • Panelist, Private Foundations: Special Self-Dealing Problems, American Bar Association, 2015 Midyear Meeting, January 30, 2015
  • Speaker, Washington Update - Nonprofit, Dallas CPA Society, Convergence 2013, May 8, 2013
  • Panelist, Foundations: Lobbying Is Not a Dirty Word, Georgetown Law Center, Issues in Nonprofit Governance, April 24, 2013
  • Panelist, Private Foundations: Practical Considerations in Addressing Excise Tax Consequences, American Bar Association, 2012 Joint Fall CLE Meeting, September 14, 2012
  • Panelist, The Rationale and Ripple Effects of Citizens United v. FEC, Caplin & Drysdale, Audio Conference, January 29, 2010
  • Speaker, On the Horizon: Current Developments in Nonprofit Governance and Advocacy, Grant Thornton and Caplin & Drysdale, November 17, 2009
  • Chair, Twelfth Annual Advanced ALI-ABA Course of Study for Counselors to Foreign and U.S. Clients, American Law Institute (ALI), American Bar Association, October 1, 2009

Click here for a full list of speaking engagements.

Recent Publications

Click here for a full list of publications.


  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1994, Virginia Law Review
  • M.A., The University of Chicago, 1988
  • B.A., University of Virginia, 1983, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar and Court Admissions

  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
View our non-mobile site Menu