100 N. Cherry Street
Suite 300
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101-4016T: 336.721.6843

Practice Areas

Practice Emphasis

  • Employment Litigation
  • Employment Law
  • Drafting Employment Contracts, Independent Contractor Agreements, and Noncompetition Agreements
  • Trade Secrets and Noncompetition Litigation
  • Wage and Hour
  • Drug Testing and Substance Abuse Law
  • General Employment Law Advice and Management Training
  • Mediation

Bar & Court Admissions

  • North Carolina, 1990


Wake Forest University School of Law

  • J.D., 1990

Yale Divinity School

  • Master of Divinity, 1981

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • B.A., English Literature, 1976


Kenneth P. Carlson, Jr.

"Man can live profoundly without masses of things." 

--Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Alone

Ken Carlson is a senior litigator who has successfully defended companies in virtually every aspect of employment law. He also has a strong practice in drafting employment contracts, independent contractor agreements, and noncompetition agreements, combined with a significant amount of work involving trade secret and noncompetition law. In addition to his litigation practice, Ken regularly advises employers on how to avoid problems before they occur, and helps companies protect their intellectual property by developing trade secret protection programs. Ken is also a certified mediator with an emphasis on mediating employment-related disputes, and is an adjunct professor at the Wake Forest University School of Law where he teaches courses in trial practice and trade secrets/unfair competition. He is a frequent speaker at corporate training and continuing education seminars throughout North Carolina, and has published numerous articles through the years on various employment law topics.

Ken is consistently named to Business North Carolina’s annual “Legal Elite” for employment law, to the list of North Carolina “Super Lawyers,” and to the Best Lawyers in America for labor & employment law and alternative dispute resolution.


Ken regularly speaks at seminars and publishes articles on employment law topics. Examples include the following:

  • Employment Law Mediations: Boldly Going Where Many Have Gone Before, Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Docket, June 2012
  • The Road to Redemption: Saving North Carolina Noncompete Law From Itself, Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law, Spring 2012
  • To Arbitrate or Not to Arbitrate -- Is That The Question?, North Carolina Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section Annual Meeting & CLE, March 20, 2009
  • Advancing the Ball at Mediation, North Carolina Advocates for Justice CLE, February 13, 2009
  • The Yalta Conference of Employment Law Meets Wendy's - Back Pay, Front Pay and Punitive Damages, presentation and paper to the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, 2006
  • Covenants Not to Compete and Trade Secrets: Protecting Against Unfair Competition, manuscript and presentation at Bi-Annual National Teleconference CLE through Lorman Education Services, 2005-present
  • "Opening Statements and Closing Arguments: You might not win it here but you sure could lose it." NBI Powerful Evidence in North Carolina Seminar 
  • "Now or Never: Protecting Trade Secrets and Other Information." Business North Carolina, June 2004
  • "Be Careful What You Ask For -- You Just Might Get It (An alternative view to mandatory arbitration of employment disputes), NC Bar Association, ADR Section Newsletter, November 2002
  • "Noncompete Agreements and Trade Secrets in North Carolina." NC Bar Association, Corporate Counsel Section Annual Meeting

Awards & Recognition

  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Business North Carolina's 2013 Legal Elite
  • Recognized in Chambers USA Guide
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers (2006-2017)
  • Best Lawyers In America (2007-2018)
  • Named, Best Lawyers 2016 Arbitration "Lawyer of the Year" in Winston-Salem
  • Business North Carolina's "Legal Elite"
  • Former Small Business Advocate of the Year, Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce
  • Named Top Lawyer for Trial/Litigation in Triad Business Leader Magazine (August 2008)

Professional Activities/Associations

  • Adjunct Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • American Bar Association
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Winston-Salem Society for Human Resources Management
  • Council Member, Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the NC Bar Association
  • Past Editor, NC Bar Association Labor & Employment Section Newsletter

Civic/Charitable Activities/Associations

  • Active with and Past Chairman, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, Inc.
  • Member and Past Chairman, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee
  • Board of Governors, Piedmont Club
  • St. Timothy's Episcopal Church
  • Chair, Healthcare, Immigration and Labor Law (HILL) Committee, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce

Other Personal Background Information and Interests

  • Ken is married to Melanie Carlson, and has three daughters who much to his dismay are now grown or almost grown: Lindsay, Elizabeth and Kathryn. He enjoys most sports, and especially likes to backpack and camp where cell phones don't work.
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