Edward G. (Woody) Connette

How I Can Help

Catastrophic Personal Injury
Class Action Litigation
ERISA and Long-Term Disability


Woody Connette has practiced law for more than 40 years. He has tried cases and appeals in federal and state courts, representing clients who have suffered catastrophic personal injuries, loss of family members by wrongful death, long-term disability benefit claims, and a wide variety of other litigation matters. Woody also has participated in class action litigation for more than 35 years, including consumer, employment, shareholder, and civil rights class actions.

Woody is familiar with ERISA and other federal and state laws and regulations in the retirement, disability and health care area. He has a long history of mental health and disability advocacy, ranging from individual incompetency and guardianship matters to large disability rights class actions.

While Woody is a litigator, the breadth of his experience makes him an adept counselor, assisting clients in developing strategies to attain objectives without litigation.

He is a frequent speaker and teacher at various continuing education programs. He has taught trial practice skills for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. He has spoken on a wide range of topics for bar and community groups, including national ERISA conferences, the North Carolina and South Carolina Bar Associations, American Advocates for Justice, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. His publications include articles on trial skills such as depositions for the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section, health care advocacy for the North Carolina Medical Journal and the American Bar Association, and professionalism for the North Carolina State Bar.

Woody’s bar activities include an appointment to the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, service on the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association and other leadership positions. The North Carolina Bar Association has given its H. Brent McKnight Professionalism Award, and the Mecklenburg County Bar has given its Ayscue professionalism Award to Woody. He has been recognized as one of the North Carolina Legal Elite, the Best Lawyers in America, North Carolina Super Lawyers, and other listings.

Among his volunteer and community activities, Woody has served on the national Board of Trustees and as President for United Cerebral Palsy, based in Washington, D.C., as President of Easter Seals/UCP of North Carolina, as Executive Board Chair for the National Patient Advocate Foundation, and as Chair of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Charlotte. He has served on the boards of the Charlotte Light Factory, the Mecklenburg Medical Society’s Bioethics Resource Group, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Carolina Legal Assistance, The Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, Bare Bones Theater Group, and other nonprofit organizations.

Locally, he has served as an advisor with the Davidson College Medical Humanities program, and with the UNC Charlotte Center for Community and Applied Ethics.

Woody enjoys art, music, and outdoor activities. He has surfed in many places, but his home beach is Wrightsville Beach, N.C. He has climbed the highest point in all 50 states, including Denali and Mount Rainier. Among those 50 peaks, he successfully reached the highest point in Delaware (442 feet) without Sherpas or supplemental oxygen. Ten Fifteen pounds ago, in 1991, he completed the Ironman World Triathalon in Hawaii. He has completed more than twenty marathons and the 60-kilometer Kepler Challenge in New Zealand.

Woody is married to Jane Harper, a retired state court judge.


  • University of North Carolina School of Law, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1977 J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence
    • Honors: North Carolina Journal of International Law
  • Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, 1974 B.A., Bachelor of Arts
    • Honors: Honors College

Professional Recognition

Named to Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite, 2016-2017.

Recognized by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers In America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2017-2018), Employment Law – Individuals (2017-2018), Litigation – ERISA (2017-2018), Litigation – Labor and Employment (2017-2018), Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs (2017-2018).

Named as “Lawyer of the Year” by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers in America, Litigation – ERISA, Charlotte (2018), Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, Charlotte (2017), Employment Law – Individuals, Charlotte (2015), Litigation – Labor and Employment, Charlotte (2014), Employment Law – Individuals, Charlotte (2012).



Associations & Admissions

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut, 1977
  • North Carolina, 1980
  • U.S. Federal Court, 1978
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1985

Professional Associations

  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Mecklenburg County Bar

Why I Love Being a Lawyer...

Here at Essex Richards, we don't have cases. We have clients. I enjoy my work because I get to know my clients and develop strong, professional relationships with them. We work hard to do right by our clients, and to do it in an ethical and professional manner.