Helping Small Businesses

Outside of a United States Bankruptcy Court


We’re developing strategic leaders who can make an impact on their local and state communities — this profound purpose is at the heart of everything we do.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought financial hardship to many small businesses throughout the U.S. and the implications run deep. Not only are small businesses frequently the backbone of local and state communities, but they also collectively account for nearly half of all U.S. economic activity.

Many business owners are now facing the possibility of bankruptcy for the first time ever. These bankruptcy newcomers need knowledgeable and strategic advisors — legal and financial — to help them navigate the uncertainties of a COVID-19 economy.

To help, Wake Forest Law and Thomson Reuters have joined forces to offer “Bankruptcy and Small Business: A Practical Course for Newcomers,” a free 15-hour course designed to educate business owners facing bankruptcy and the advisors who are tasked to help them.

Bankruptcy expert Professor Steve Nickles conceived this program in response to the anticipated economic impact of the pandemic on small businesses. Throughout his years as a bankruptcy and commercial law teacher and scholar, Professor Nickles has maintained a close connection to the bench and bar, providing students with a unique real-world view of debtor-creditor practice. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including a three-volume treatise used by lawyers throughout the world.

You can learn more about how Professor Nickles led the development of this course at

Learn More & Enroll »

Watch a video of Dean Jane Aiken as she talks about this new partnership and its latest CLE course.

About The Course

The complete 15-hour course is divided into 5 programs:

  1. A Guide to Small Business Reorganizations and Liquidations
  2. A Practical Guide to Subchapter V
  3. Sole Proprietors in Chapter 13
  4. Family Farm Bankruptcy Under Chapter 12
  5. Bankruptcy Liquidation in Chapter 7

These programs were designed to provide legal, accounting, and business professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to help small business owners navigate the post-COVID economy.

The first program introduces the concepts and tools generally available in any bankruptcy case — regardless of the type of debtor or the type of relief sought. These tools can help clients keep their businesses alive and growing or, alternatively, they can help clients close their business efficiently.

The four subsequent programs begin with broad overviews of the types of bankruptcy available to small businesses and narrow to specific, but commonly encountered topics and issues.

Who Should Attend

This entire course is designed to educate those who are new to bankruptcy and want practical, real-world advice from judges and practitioners. This course is especially targeted at:

• Lawyers

• Small business owners

• Accountants

• Paralegals

• Other experienced professionals

Benefits To Students

There are many advantages to taking this course, but some of the highlights include:

• The 15-hour course is completely free of charge

• Lawyers in nearly every state can earn up to 15 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits

• Free education from leading scholars, practitioners, and experts

Our Presenters

This program and its 5 distinct courses are lead by numerous experts and leading professionals in a variety of fields and specialties, including:

Judge Laura Beyer, Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Western District of North Carolina

Judge Paul W. Bonapfel, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Georgia

Judge Joseph N. Callaway, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina

Deborah Crowder (BA ’98, JD ’01), Attorney, Standing Chapter 13 Trustee for the Western District of North Carolina

Paul A. Fanning (JD ’98), Partner, Ward and Smith, P.A.

Craig M. Geno, Law Offices of Craig M. Geno, PLLC

Robert Gourley, Jr., Law Offices of Robert H. Gourley, Jr., P.A.

Cole Hayes, Associate, Moon Wright & Houston

Jim Lanik, Partner, Waldrep Law

Jennifer Lyday (BA ’06), Partner, Waldrep Law

Susan A. Schneider, William H. Enfield Professor of Law, University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) School of Law

Judge A. Thomas Small (JD ’69), United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina (retired)

Thomas W. Waldrep Jr., Managing Partner, Waldrep Law

Judge David M. Warren (BA ’81, JD ’84), United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina

Judge Craig Whitley (JD ’84), United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Western District of North Carolina

Richard S. Wright (BA ’93, JD ’97), Partner, Moon Wright & Houston