I Declare Bankruptcy: Examining the Law and Ethics of Lewellen vs. Access Group




School of Economics and Business Administration

Document Type

Case study

Publication Date



Sage Business Cases


Students are increasingly familiar with the burden of debt for higher education. This case depicts the financial struggles of Nancy Lewellen, a woman who decided to quit her job to attend law school in mid-life. Ms. Lewellen borrowed money to obtain her law degree and worked for a law firm upon graduation. While working for the firm, she earned a sufficient income to make payments on her student loan debts and cover her costs of living with her adult disabled daughter. When Ms. Lewellen was laid off, she found herself scrambling to pay her bills. The struggle seemed perpetual and Ms. Lewellen considered bankruptcy as a result. This case study is based on Ms. Lewellen v. Access Group (2010), and questions the legal, financial, and ethical implications of Ms. Lewellen’s bankruptcy claims. The ethical framework of bankruptcy surrounded the issues in Ms. Lewellen’s case both before and after the judge ruled.




Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Economics | Finance and Financial Management


Michael O'Brien, Management; George Papagiannis, Organizations and Responsible Business

Original Citation

O'Brien, M. and Papagiannis, G. (2016) I Declare Bankruptcy: Examining the Law and Ethics of Lewellen vs. Access Group, Sage Business Cases. doi:10.4135/9781473997837