Paul A. Fanning

North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Business and Consumer Bankruptcy Law
Ward and Smith, P.A.
252.215.4027 Fax 252.215.4077
Post Office Box 8088, Greenville, NC 27835-8088
Post Office Box 33009, Raleigh, NC 27636-3009

Paul leads the Creditors' Rights practice and is certified by the American Board of Certification and the North Carolina State Bar as a Board Certified Specialist in Business and Consumer Bankruptcy Law.  His practice experience encompasses bankruptcy, collections, creditors' rights, and lender liability.  He concentrates his practice in the representation of creditors in complex bankruptcy cases and state court litigation, including workouts, collection reorganizations, and contested matters.  

Paul has represented lenders, trade creditors, farm equipment manufacturers, community associations, contractors and telecommunications companies in various reorganization proceedings, including commercial real estate, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail transactions.  He has extensive experience in state court foreclosures and receiverships and other aspects of creditor-debtor litigation, including appellate advocacy. 


  • J.D., Wake Forest School of Law, 1998
  • B.A., The University of North Carolina at Asheville, 1993

Representative Experience

  • Representation of secured lender through appointment of state court receiver for, and foreclosure against, hotel properties
  • Representation of international farm equipment manufacturer in complex multistate franchisee bankruptcy case resulting in full recovery
  • Representation of lead participant secured lender owed $15 million in contested foreclosure and sale of subdivision property containing three golf courses through bankruptcy
  • Representation of lender through successful restructure and collateralization of $20 million loan through bankruptcy plan confirmation of brick manufacturer
  • Representation of primary secured creditor in regional cigarette manufacturer bankruptcy including regulatory hurdles, cash collateral, asset sales and contested plan confirmation issues resulting in full recovery
  • Representation of international air filter manufacturer in state business court litigation against secured lender reducing exposure by $20 million
  • Representation of defrauded creditor preventing debtors from obtaining bankruptcy discharge
  • Representation of clients in defending complex preference and fraudulent transfer claims

Honors and Distinctions*

  • Chambers USA, Bankruptcy/Restructuring – North Carolina, 2019-2024
  • "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, Bankruptcy, 2006-2008, 2010-2020, 2022-2024
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers®, 2011-2024
  • Chambers USA, Bankruptcy/Restructuring – North Carolina, 2019-2023
  • "Super Lawyer," Creditor Debtor Rights, North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2009-2024
  • "Top 100 Super Lawyers," Creditor Debtor Rights, North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2022-2024
  • "Lawyer of the Year," Best Lawyers in America
  • NC Attorney Pro Bono Honor Society Inductee, NC Pro Bono Resource Center, 2021, 2020

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Chambers USA

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • American Board of Certification — Sections: Business Bankruptcy; Consumer Bankruptcy
  • Boys & Girls Club of Pitt County (president 2008; board member 2005-2011)
  • Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (Board of Trustees 2011-2012)
  • Community Associations Institute
  • Eastern North Carolina Inn of Court
  • Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce (board of directors 2007-2009)
  • Kiwanis Club of University City (vice president 2003-2004; board member 2001-2004)
  • North Carolina Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs (president 2014; secretary/treasurer 2011; board of directors 2007-present)
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Section: Bankruptcy (council member 2005-2007)
  • North Carolina Creditors Bar Association
  • UNC Asheville Alumni Board of Directors 2019-present
  • UNC Asheville Foundation Board 2020-present

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 1998
  • All state courts in North Carolina
  • United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of 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

About Me

What I admire most about my clients is their ability to solve complex problems that arise in litigation in creative and dynamic ways and often in ways that make them and their employers look good.  The best thing about Ward and Smith is being part of, and contributing to, the family business.  Hired out of law school, the Firm reared and mentored me to become a productive member of not just the Firm, but my community and the legal profession as well.

I became a lawyer because lawyers make real differences in people's lives.  We are professional worriers.  If we do our job right, we take the worry from the client and solve problems.

“Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action.” — Theodore Roosevelt

* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions:;; and

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
  • 2024 Chambers USA

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