Attorney Profile

Joel I. Sher is Chairman of the Firm and heads the Firm’s financial restructuring and bankruptcy practice. He provides counsel and representation to debtors, creditors, investors, and creditors’ committees in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases and counsels clients in complex out-of-court restructurings. He is described in Chambers USA as “a wonderful attorney…very effective, very smart, knowledgeable and experienced,” and possessing a “formidable track record in corporate restructurings, creditors’ rights mandates, and bankruptcy litigation.” Mr. Sher has also successfully represented clients in numerous high-stakes litigation matters in federal and state courts throughout the United States. 

Mr. Sher’s experience in representing clients in sophisticated restructurings and bankruptcies has covered a wide array of industries including: commercial real estate, shopping centers, general and specialty retail, hotels, service industries, mortgage REITS, financial services, health care, real estate development, construction management, 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 of real estate and business interests in Europe and Australia; a national bottling company; and a variety of operating food and hospitality businesses. Mr. Sher currently serves as the Chapter 11 Trustee for 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

  • Counsel to Creative Hairdresser’s Inc. in the Chapter 11 sale of its Hair Cuttery chain of stores;
  • 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 investors in the acquisition of distressed assets from the Toys R US bankruptcy cases.
  • Counsel to Novation Companies, Inc., f/k/a NovaStar Financial, Inc. in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization; 
  • Counsel in 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 Combined Properties, a Washington, D.C. real estate firm with a diversified portfolio of shopping centers, in its successful Chapter 11 bankruptcy 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; and
  • Counsel to a regional developer and home builder in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization.


  • 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

April 24, 2020
Shapiro Sher Represents Creative Hairdressers, Inc.

April 24, 2020
Shapiro Sher Recognized as Leading Firm in Chambers USA 2020

Chambers USA, a preeminent guide to the U.S. legal industry, has released its 2020 rankings, naming five Shapiro Sher attorneys in its survey of Maryland lawyers.

August 19, 2019
Ten Shapiro Sher Attorneys Featured in The Best Lawyers in America

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

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

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

Eleven Shapiro Sher attorneys are cited in Maryland Super Lawyers 2016

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.