Attorney Profile

Joel I. Sher heads the Firm’s financial restructuring and bankruptcy practice. He represents debtors, creditors, and creditors’ committees in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases and counsels clients in complex out-of-court workouts. Described in Chambers as “knowledgeable as anyone you would ever meet” and “an aggressive and very experienced” litigator, Mr. Sher has successfully represented clients in numerous high- stakes cases in courts throughout the United States.

Mr. Sher’s experience in representing debtors and creditors in bankruptcy and restructuring matters has covered a wide array of industries including: mortgage REITS, financial services; health care; real estate development; construction management; specialty retail; governmental contracting; manufacturing; and telecommunications. He has also represented numerous clients in the sale and acquisition of distressed assets.  As a known and experienced negotiator, Mr. Sher is often retained to negotiate resolutions to complex commercial disputes.

Mr. Sher’s appointments as an operating trustee and liquidating agent for a number of operating businesses include: a government contractor for the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA; a developer and owner of real estate and business interests in the United States, Australia, Spain and the Netherlands; a national bottling company; and a variety of operating food and hospitality businesses. Mr. Sher currently serves as the Chapter 11 Trustee in the reorganization of TMST, Inc. (formerly known as Thornburg Mortgage, Inc.), a multi- billion dollar REIT which was one of the nation's largest residential mortgage originator, servicer and investor.

Notable Representations Have Included the Following

  • Counsel to Combined Properties, a Washington, D.C. real estate firm with a diversified portfolio of shopping centers, in its successful Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization arising from disputes with the Haft family;
  • Counsel to a beneficiary of the trust at issue in the Dauman v. Sumner Redstone litigation concerning the Redstone family holdings in CBS and Viacom;
  • Counsel to Novation Companies, Inc., f/k/a NovaStar Financial, Inc. in its ongoing Chapter 11 reorganization; 
  • Lead Counsel in the litigation brought against the Royal Bank of Canada arising out of the Thornburg Mortgage case concerning the liquidation of mortgage backed securities, resulting in a $30.1 Million settlement payment to the Thornburg estate;
  • Counsel to Fieldstone Mortgage Company, a mortgage originator that emerged as an operating entity from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case;
  • Counsel to Luminent Mortgage Capital, Inc., a mortgage investor in its successful Chapter 11 case;
  • Counsel to the Bankruptcy Trustee in the case of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, Inc., a 1400-store national retail chain;
  • Counsel to the Bankruptcy Trustee in the case of Just For Feet, Inc., a 300-store national retail chain;
  • Counsel to Pharmakinetics, a generic drug testing company in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization;
  • Counsel to the Bond Holders Committee in the case of National Energy & Gas Transmission, a merchant energy producer and subsidiary of PG&E;
  • Counsel to the Creditors Committee in Sunterra Corporation, one of the world's largest timeshare companies;
  • Counsel to the Creditors Committee in Frank's Nursery and Crafts, Inc., a retail nursery and garden store chain;
  • Counsel to the Creditors Committee in PhyAmerica Physicians Group, Inc., a national physician practice management company;
  • Counsel to the Creditors Committee in Railworks Corporation, a supplier to and servicer of the railroad industry; 
  • Counsel to a regional developer and home builder in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization; and
  • Counsels to investors in their acquisition of distressed assets in various retail bankruptcy cases.


  • Member, Past Chair, Baltimore Chapter of the Bankruptcy Bar Association of Maryland
  • Member, Maryland State Bar Association
  • Member, Baltimore City Bar Association
  • Member, Baltimore County Bar Association
  • Member, Association for Commercial Finance Attorneys
  • Member, American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Member, Commercial Law League of America

News & Publications

January 02, 2019
Thirteen Shapiro Sher Attorneys Recognized in Maryland Super Lawyers 2019

June 01, 2018
Chambers USA 2018 ranks Shapiro Sher among leading firms

January 02, 2018
Shapiro Sher Wins Award for Reorganization of Novation Companies

December 19, 2017
Maryland Super Lawyers Recognizes Twelve Shapiro Sher Attorneys

August 23, 2017
Best Lawyers in America Recognizes Nine Shapiro Sher Attorneys

June 13, 2016
Chambers USA Ranks Shapiro Sher Among Leading Law Firms

December 15, 2015
Maryland Super Lawyers 2016 list includes 12 Shapiro Sher attorneys

Eleven Shapiro Sher attorneys are cited in Maryland Super Lawyers 2016

June 02, 2015
Chambers USA 2015 ranks Shapiro Sher among top law firms

Chambers USA names Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler among the leading firms in Maryland.

January 23, 2015
Maryland Super Lawyers 2015 list includes 14 Shapiro Sher attorneys

​Fourteen Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler are cited in Maryland Super Lawyers 2015, including one attorney listed as a Top 10 Maryland lawyer, two listed in the Top 100, and four “Rising Stars.”

August 20, 2014
WSJ: Thornburg trustee reaches deal with Barclays

Barclays Capital, Inc., offers to pay $23 million to settle claims brought by Joel I. Sher, the court-appointed trustee overseeing the liquidation of TMST, Inc., formerly known as Thornburg Mortgage.