Ward and Smith and 3 Attorneys Recognized by Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment 2021

Gold Stars

Benchmark Litigation has recognized Ward and Smith and three attorneys in its 2021 Labor & Employment edition. 

The publication selected Ken Gray, Will Oden, and Devon Williams as "Labor and Employment Stars." The trio has been included in this prestigious guide every year since its inception four years ago. Ward and Smith also made the rankings this year as a "Recommended" firm in the area of employment law

Benchmark Litigation is considered one of the most definitive go-to guides for rankings of preeminent litigation practitioners and firms in the U.S. It created a separate Labor & Employment edition in response to the ever-increasing demand for a specialized study of the labor and employment practice area, and covers a wide range of employment law issues, including, but not limited, to employee discrimination/Title VII, wage and hour disputes, sexual harassment, labor relations, and unions and collective bargaining.  Rankings are the result of extensive interviews with attorneys and their clients and feedback from their peers. You can learn more about Benchmark Litigation's methodology here

Meet the 2021 Labor and Employment Stars

Ken GrayKen Gray leads the firm's Labor and Employment practice. His practice experience encompasses various areas of employment-related litigation.  He advises clients and litigates cases involving all forms of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and breach of employment contracts from small start-up companies to Fortune 500 corporations.  Ken is a frequent lecturer on employment discrimination, workplace retaliation, workers' compensation, and wage and hour law issues.


Will OdenWill Oden leads Ward and Smith's Workplace Safety and Health practice. His practice experience encompasses various areas of employment and workplace-related counseling and civil litigation in both the federal and state courts at the trial and appellate levels.  Will also 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 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 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.  

Devon WilliamsDevon Williams' experience focuses on a wide range of labor and employment issues, including wage and hour matters, federal contractor compliance, employment discrimination, and harassment, employee discipline and termination, personnel policies, and background checks. On issues relating to employee benefits, she concentrates on issues confronting welfare benefit plans (such as medical, dental, and other plans) and their sponsors, including the provisions and impact of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to maintaining a full labor and employment practice, Devon also serves as the firm's Co-Managing Director. 

About Ward and Smith's Labor and Employment Practice

The Labor and Employment Practice Group works with clients to develop, implement, and defend policies and practices related to all aspects of the employment relationship to lessen the impact of these burdens to the greatest extent possible.

Several of our attorneys focus on business and human relations practices such as preparing personnel manuals, employment contracts, compensation agreements, documents associated with workforce reductions, and settlement agreements and releases related to other termination forms.  Other attorneys represent clients in state and federal courts and before regulatory and administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Ward and Smith's Labor and Employment attorneys serve clients from all business areas — from Fortune 500 companies to mid-size and small employers.  Our attorneys supplement the work of in-house counsel employed by large companies, and we handle all aspects of the legal process for small companies. Clients include banking and financial institutions, medical practices, boat builders, communications companies, construction companies, distributors, educational institutions, food service companies, insurance companies, manufacturers, nonprofit organizations, public utilities, publishers, retailers, state and local governments, and technology companies.

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