Kenneth R. Wooten

Co-Managing Director and Litigation Attorney
Ward and Smith, P.A.
252.672.5452 Fax 252.672.5477
Post Office Box 867, New Bern, NC 28563-0867

Ken is one of the firm's Managing Directors.  He handles various types of litigation, including construction, business and commercial, contract, public housing, insurance coverage, and federal litigation.  Ken is an International Fellow and Past District Governor of Civitan International and has served on the executive boards of many civic organizations.  He has been rated by his peers as being "preeminent" in his fields of law.  Prior to joining the firm, Ken was a research assistant to Justice J. William Copeland of the North Carolina Supreme Court.


  • J.D., with honors, The University of North Carolina School of Law, 1979. North Carolina Law Review, Order of the Coif, Order of Barristers, Invitational Moot Court Team, Holderness Moot Court Bench.
  • B.A., with high honors, North Carolina State University, 1976

Representative Experience

  • Represented owner on a public project that involved renovation and some new construction to resolve multiple design and construction deficiencies
  • Assisted a developer of a condominium complex at the beach in resolving a lawsuit involving allegations of construction deficiencies as well as allegations of overreaching vis a vis the homeowner's association
  • Served as a mediator and resolved the claims of the general contractor and multiple subcontractors involving unpaid balances and allegations of delay and construction defects

Reported Decisions

Jean v. Collins, 221 F.3d 656 (2000) (en banc), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 771 (2001)
Taylor v. McDuffie, 155 F.3d 479 (1998), cert. denied, 1999 U.S. LEXIS 1606 (1999)
Edmundson v. Keesler, 103 F.3d 117 (1996), cert. denied, 1997 U.S. LEXIS 3562 (1997)
Renn by & Through Renn v. Garrison, 100 F.3d 344 (1996)
Taft v. Vines, 83 F.3d 681 (en banc) (1996)
Blount v Wake Elec. Membership Corp., 162 F.R.D. 102 (EDNC 1993)
Washington Housing Authority v. North Carolina Housing Authorities Risk Retention Pool, 130 N.C. App. 279, 502 S.E.2d 626, petition for disc. review denied, 526 S.E.2d 477 (1998)
Hockaday v. Lee, 124 N.C. App. 425, 477 S.E.2d 82 (1996), petition for disc. review denied, 346 N.C. 178, 486 S.E.2d 204 (1997)
Carolina Water Service v. Town of Atlantic Beach, 121 N.C. App. 23, 464 S.E.2d 317 (1995), petition for disc. review denied, 342 N.C. 894, 467 S.E.2d 901 (1996)
Drain v. United Services Life Ins. Co., 85 N.C. App. 174, 354 S.E.2d 269 (1987)

Honors and Distinctions*

  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2005-2021
  • "Super Lawyer," North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2006-2020
  • "Lawyer of the Year," Best Lawyers,2015, 2017-2018
  • "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, 2002, 2007, 2009-2014, and 2016

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • Christian Legal Society 
  • Eastern North Carolina Inn of Court
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Sections: Construction Law; Law Practice Management; Litigation
  • North Carolina Biosciences Organization
  • North Carolina State University, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (board member)
  • UNC School of Law Alumni Association (prior member, Advancement Committee)

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 1979
  • All state and federal courts in North Carolina
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina
  • United State Supreme Court

About Me

As a co-managing director, I am responsible for communicating a vision and a strategic direction for the firm.  My goal is to be a servant leader.  It is important to find out what our sections, practice groups, and individuals need to go in the direction the firm needs the whole team to move and then to supply those resources within a budget. When everyone is successful, the firm is successful.

Helping clients find solutions to construction disputes is very important to me. I have done that by representing general contractors, subcontractors, and owners for over 36 years.  Also, I have served as a mediator to help attorneys in other firms resolve their clients' disputes.  It is very satisfying professionally in both settings to help clients bring closure on a construction project by resolving their differences and getting the building open to be used for the purpose for which it was built.

* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions:;; and

An attorney‑client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement. The content of any unsolicited email sent to Ward and Smith, P.A., or to any of its attorneys at an email address available on this website, will not create an attorney‑client relationship and the contents of such unsolicited email shall not be considered confidential. Therefore, do not use this website or the email addresses available on this website to provide confidential information about yourself or a legal matter to Ward and Smith or any of its attorneys.