Baltimore Office
36 South Charles Street
Suite 2000
Baltimore, MD 21201 410.385.0202

Washington Office
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005 202.331.0200




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Joel I. Sher


36 South Charles Street
Suite 2000
Baltimore, MD 21201

410.385.4277 ph
410.539.7611 fax

Joel I. Sher is chairman of the Firm and heads its bankruptcy and financial restructuring practice. He concentrates in corporate reorganization, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy litigation. He represents debtors, creditors, and creditors’ committees in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases and counsels clients in complex out-of-court workouts. As an experienced Court-appointed Trustee, he currently serves as the Chapter 11 Trustee in the reorganization of TMST, Inc., a mortgage lender formerly known as Thornburg Mortgage, Inc. He is also an accomplished commercial litigator and has represented clients in federal and state courts throughout the United States.

Mr. Sher has extensive experience in bankruptcy and restructurings in a wide range of industries, including financial services, real estate development, construction management, health care, specialty retailing, governmental contracting, manufacturing and telecommunications. Mr. Sher has been involved in numerous complex bankruptcy cases throughout his career. These matters include his representation of the Combined Properties, a Washington D.C. based real estate portfolio, in its successful Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases which resulted from disputes among the Haft family. Mr. Sher has also served as counsel to a number of Chapter 7 Trustees, including in the cases of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, Inc., a 1400-store national retail chain, Just For Feet, Inc., a 300-store national retail chain and Regency Homes, a regional real estate developer.

Mr. Sher’s experience includes representation of numerous businesses that have successfully reorganized under chapter 11, including financial service companies, real estate developers and general contractors, health care providers, publicly traded companies, restaurants and specialty retailers. Mr. Sher recently represented a regional developer and home builder in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization. He also served as counsel to Fieldstone Mortgage Company, a nationwide mortgage originator that emerged as an operating entity from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, as well as Luminent Mortgage Capital, Inc. in its successful Chapter 11 case. Recent engagements have also included his representation of a substantial creditor in the restructuring of National Amusements, Inc. Mr. Sher has acted as plan administrator and liquidating agent with respect to the management and disposition of an array of privately owned real estate and business interests in the United States, Australia, Spain, and the Netherlands. He has also been appointed as operating trustee/liquidating agent for a variety of businesses, including a national bottling company, numerous retail establishments, and real estate enterprises. Recently, Mr. Sher, in his capacity as a Court-appointed Chapter 11 Trustee, successfully reorganized a governmental services business with over 1100 employees nationwide and annual revenues in excess of $55 million.

Mr. Sher has served as counsel to the creditors’ committees in various cases including: Frank’s Nursery and Crafts, Inc., a retail nursery and garden store chain; Sunterra Corporation, one of the world’s largest timeshare companies; Railworks Corporation, a national supplier to and servicer of the railroad industry; PhyAmerica Physician Group, Inc., a national physician practice management company and Creditrust Corporation, a collector and manager of defaulted consumer receivables.

News & Publications

September 22, 2012: Joel I. Sher is profiled in The Baltimore Sun, in an article titled, "Baltimore lawyer pursues mortgage-related actions against banks."

July 24, 2012: Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Law360 and other media report on a significant development in the Thornburg Mortgage bankruptcy case in which Joel I. Sher serves as US Trustee. 

June 7, 2012: Chambers USA selects Joel I. Sher and four other Shapiro Sher partners for inclusion in its prestigious 2012 directory.

March 9, 2012: "The bruising battle for Alter Communications." The Deal Magazine quotes Joel Sher in an article about the bankruptcy of Alter Communications, parent of the Baltimore Jewish Times.

January 15, 2012: "Ex-Thornburg CEO Goldstone, others settle with bankruptcy trustee." National Mortgage News, The AmLaw Daily, American Banker, Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review and other media outlets report that Joel Sher, as trustee for Thornburg Mortgage, has settled a lawsuit against Thornburg's former executives and outside legal firm for $6.5 million.

January 5, 2012: Maryland Super Lawyers selects Joel I. Sher and ten other Shapiro Sher attorneys for inclusion in its 2012 ratings of Maryland's leading attorneys and names him among the top 100 lawyers in the state.

December 15, 2011: The Wall Street Journal reports on Joel I. Sher's latest filing against five of the country's largest investment banks, in his capacity as court-appointed U.S. Trustee for TMST, Inc., formerly known as Thornburg Mortgage. 

November 26, 2011: The Baltimore Sun quotes Joel Sher in the article: "Debate on whether cursive writing should still be taught. " 

September 6, 2011: Best Lawyers in America selects Joel I. Sher and seven other Shapiro Sher attorneys for inclusion in its prestigious 2012 rankings. 

June 22, 2011: The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest in the liquidation of Thornburg Mortgage -- once the nation's second largest independent mortgage company -- as court-appointed trustee, Joel I. Sher, files what the WSJ calls a "pre-emptive campaign" against Bank of America.

June 15, 2011: Chambers USA 2011 ranks Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler among the country's leading law firms and cites Joel I. Sher and three other Shapiro Sher attorneys among the country's leading attorneys. 

May 3, 2011: The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesReutersBloomberg, and other media throughout the US and abroad, report that Joel I. Sher, as US Trustee for Thornburg Mortgage, Inc., has filed suit seeking $2.2 billion in judgments against multiple banking giants, alleging collusive and predatory actions that forced Thornburg into bankruptcy.

December 7, 2010: The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Joel I. Sher, who represents the trustee in the bankruptcy 
case of Alan Fabian, is pleased with the judge's order in, "Judge won't let Alan Fabian escape debts."

June 13, 2010: Chambers USA 2010 ranks Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler among the top law firms in the country. The prestigious guide cites four of the Firm's partners, including Joel I. Sher, among the leading lawyers in the United States.

March 5, 2010: American Lawyer Daily reports that Joel I. Sher, the court-appointed trustee in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Thornburg Mortgage Inc., has filed a complaint alleging conspiracy by the company's former executives and their attorney. Further reports on the case were published by Reuters, the Wall Street Journal's Bankruptcy Beat blog, and the New York Times' DealBook blog.

February 5, 2010: "Thornburg Seeks to Sell $11 Billion Portfolio." The Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review quotes Joel I. Sher, court-appointed trustee to Thornburg Mortgage Inc., in a report on the bankrupt lender's Chapter 11 case.

November 9, 2009: "Thornburg Bankruptcy Hits Bumps." The Albuquerque Journal, in a column about the bankruptcy of Thornburg Mortgage Inc., reports that "what once was arguably Santa Fe's premier business is being run" by Joel I. Sher, who was appointed Chapter 11 trustee in the case by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Duncan Keir in Baltimore.

October 30, 2009: Sher appointed Chapter 11 trustee for Thornburg Mortgage Inc. Reuters reports that Joel I. Sher has been appointed Chapter 11 trustee to oversee the liquidation of the former Thornburg Mortgage Inc.

September 14, 2009: Caruso Homes to Emerge from Bankruptcy Protection. The Baltimore Business Journal, Builder's Magazine and CityBizList report on the homebuilder's successful Chapter 11 reorganization, citing Joel I. Sher as debtor's counsel. In Court, the Judge complimented the Caruso legal team saying: "This case is an example of how the bankruptcy code should work."

June 30, 2009: Selected for the 2010 edition of Best Lawyers in America, a highly respected peer-review publication serving the legal profession.

September 9, 2008: The Deal cites Mr. Sher as debtor co-counsel in the Chapter 11 case of Luminent Mortgage Capital Inc., a Philadelphia-based REIT.

September 8, 2008: Mr. Sher is selected for inclusion in the 2009 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

July 11, 2008: "Fieldstone Bankruptcy Plan OK'd by Judge." SSG&S represents Fieldstone Mortgage as the company wins approval of its Chapter 11 plan and becomes "one of few subprime lenders to survive bankruptcy since the credit crisis began," reports The Baltimore Sun.

June 24, 2008: Caruso Homes, Inc. files for Chapter 11 relief. Reporting on the Maryland homebuilder's bankruptcy, The Baltimore Examiner quotes Joel I. Sher, debtor's counsel in the case.

Joel I. Sher named in "Super Lawyers" list of the top 50 attorneys in the state of Maryland. The list was published in the January 2008 issue of Baltmore Magazine and in Maryland Super Lawyers Magazine.

May 17, 2008: "'Massive fraud' nets plea of guilty." The Baltimore Sun reports that entrepreneur Alan B. Fabian has pled guilty to a multi-year fraud scheme. The story quotes Joel I. Sher, attorney to the trustee of Fabian's bankrupt Strategic Partners International, Inc.

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland
  • Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland
  • United States Supreme Court


  • University of Maryland (B.A., 1974)
  • Villanova University School of Law (J.D., 1978)

Affiliations, Achievements and Honors

  • Cited in Chambers USA 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 among the leading lawyers in the United States. Ranked in Band One, for bankruptcy litigation in Maryland.
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of Best Lawyers in America
  • Named to the "Top 100" list in Maryland Super Lawyers 2014
  • Cited as one of the Top 50 attorneys in Maryland in a list of the state's Super Lawyers published in Baltimore Magazine
  • Panel Trustee, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland
  • Member, Past Chair, 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
  • Author of articles, lecturer on bankruptcy and debtor/credit issues