William A. Oden, III

Labor and Employment Attorney and Mediator
Ward and Smith, P.A.
Email wao@wardandsmith.com
910.794.4813 Fax 910.794.4877
Post Office Box 7068, Wilmington, NC 28406-7068

Will's practice experience encompasses various areas of employment and workplace-related counseling and civil litigation in both federal and state courts at the trial and appellate levels.  He regularly represents employers and employees before the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL), the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC), the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security (DES), and federal and state wage and hour divisions.  He is a frequent lecturer and advises clients on a wide range of personnel issues, including Title VII, Family and Medical Leave Act, WARN, COBRA, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Fair Labor Standards Act.

Additionally, Will serves as a mediator and has been certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission since 2013.


  • J.D., Campbell Law School, 2004. Moot Court, Trial Team, Business Editor and Staff Member, Campbell Law Review.  Honor Court Justice, Moot Court Board.
  • M.B.A., Campbell University, 2004
  • B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001

Representative Experience

  • Obtained dismissal in federal Medicare Secondary Payer Act case stemming from an occupational disease workers' compensation case
  • Successfully resolved class action wage and hour lawsuit, representing large, multi-state franchisee of a national restaurant chain
  • Routinely drafts employment agreements, independent contractor agreements, employee handbooks, employer policies and programs (including safety and health programs), orientation and training materials, and advises clients on employment law, occupational safety and health, and workers' compensation issues
  • Representation of utility contractors, dental practices, construction companies, and telemarketing clients (to name a few) in regard to federal wage and hour audits and investigations
  • Representation of the largest mining operation in North Carolina with 1,000+ employees in regard to employment and workers' compensation matters, OSHA and MSHA investigations, citations, and penalties, and contesting same, taproot investigations, and other safety and health issues
  • Representation of employer in successful defense of complex occupational disease workers' compensation cases involving alleged exposures to asbestos, silica, chemicals, etc.
  • Representation of employer in successful defense of occupational hearing loss claim.
  • Representation of builders, medical/dental practices, insurance brokerages, and CPA firm clients (by way of example) in regard to the creation, prosecution, and defense of covenants against competition
  • Serves as legal counsel for the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina
  • Serves as mediator for other North Carolina attorneys in employment and workers' compensation cases

Honors and Distinctions*

  • "Super Lawyers," Employment & Labor, North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2020-2024
  • "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, Employment, 2017, 2020-2024
  • "Labor and Employment Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • 2019 Citizen Lawyer Award Recipient
  • "40 and Under Hot List," Benchmark Litigation, 2017-2019
  • "Rising Star," North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2013-2018

       Super Lawyers LogoSPHR Badge

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • American Bar Association — Law Student Division: Lt. Governor of ABA Law School Representatives, 4th Circuit, Fall 2003 - Spring 2004; Chapter President, Spring 2003-2004; Vice President, Fall 2002 - Spring 2003
  • Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (inaugural member, Advisory Board)
  • Campbell Law Alumni Association (founding member, Board of Directors)
  • Craven County Bar Association (President 2006-2007, Vice president, Treasurer, Secretary 2005-2006)
  • Fifth Judicial District Bar Association (Director 2015-2016; Vice President 2016-2017)
  • Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (Leadership Wilmington Alumnus, Class of 2010)
  • Lower Cape Fear Human Resource Association (Board Advisor 2012 - 2014; President 2011; Vice President 2010; Legislative Chair 2009; HR Roundup Editor 2009-2011)
  • New Hanover County (member, Cape Fear Museum Advisory Board; former member, Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority)
  • New Hanover County Bar Association (member, Board of Directors; Secretary/Treasurer 2010-2011; Vice President 2011-2012; President 2012-2013)
  • North Carolina Bar Association (Board of Governors, present)
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Committees: Citizen-Lawyer (Member Appointment 2012-2015); Local Bar Services (Member Appointment 2012-2015; Committee Chair 2015); Local Bar Outreach Committee (Committee Co-Chair 2016);
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Division: Young Lawyers (Judicial Representative for District 3B 2005-2006)
  • North Carolina Bar Association Leadership Academy (Class of 2014)
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Sections: Construction Law, Board Liaison; Dispute Resolution (Chair); Education Law; Labor and Employment Law (Section Council member; former contributing writer, Labor and Employment); Litigation; Workers' Compensation
  • North Carolina Society for Human Resource Management (NCSHRM) (member, Leadership Council 2011-present; former Government Affairs Co-Chair)
  • North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Commission
  • Safety and Health Council of North Carolina (member, Board of Directors; Legal Counsel)
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 2004
  • 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 States Supreme Court
  • Virginia, 2018

About Me

What I admire most about our clients is their passion, work ethic, and tenacity for their businesses, and their people.  The best thing about Ward and Smith is its culture, hands-down.  Clients, Firm, Self – in that order.  This keystone allows us to navigate this challenging and rewarding profession in a unique way.

One surprising thing people don't know about me is that my great-great grandfather, William Blount Rodman was the chief architect of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure during Reconstruction.  I am a fourth (non-consecutive)-generation North Carolina attorney, and the 5th generation of my family to attend and earn a degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Go Heels!

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" – Proverbs 27:17

* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions: www.bestlawyers.com; businessnc.com/special-sections/legal-elite/; and www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina.

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.

  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Legal Elite Business North Carolina 2024
  • Super Lawyers 2021
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers 2023
  • U.S. News Best Lawyers 20234

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