First, considering which type of bankruptcy case was filed by the NC company, "chasing the 44k" may not be a waste of time. If the NC company filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is likely the case, the unsecured creditors are allowed to participate in the process and ensure that their interests are also protected. If the NC Company had several unsecured creditors when they filed the bankruptcy case, there may have been a creditors committee formed that will also have to agree on the terms of any reorganization plan proposed by the NC company. You should file a proof of claim and a Notice of Appearance in the bankruptcy case immediately and put the Court on Notice that you are a valid creditor who is owed money.
By "cut away" I assume you mean you want to rescind the contractual relationship that you have with the NC company. Unfortunately, since the NC company has filed for bankruptcy, they will need to seek permission from the Court before they will be allowed to rescind or void any contracts that were valid and enforceable upon the time of filing. Once the case was filed your contract with the NC company became property of the bankruptcy estate. If the NC company is still the debtor in possession and a separate trustee has not been appointed, rescinding the contract may be easy, if it is in the best interests of the bankruptcy estate. Whether the contract is beneficial to the bankruptcy estate will depend upon whether the relationship is still viable and profitable for the NC Company. If it not beneficial to the bankruptcy estate then you should not have a problem obtaining approval from the Court to have the contract rescinded.
You are correct in that you need to hire a bankruptcy attorney in your area who is knowledgable with the type of bankruptcy case filed by the NC Company (which is probably a chapter 11 case). The attorney will be able to help you navigate through the bankruptcy process.
The important thing to remember is that you need to be a part of the bankruptcy process and anything that has become a part of the bankruptcy estate will have to be handled in the bankruptcy case.
I hope you found this information helpful.