Michael S. Scher, a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Miles & Stockbridge who specialized in real estate and housing law, died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma Saturday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 50 and a resident of the Thornleigh section of Baltimore County.
Mr. Scher was born and raised in Pocomoke City, where his parents owned and operated a women's and children's clothing shop. He was a 1972 graduate of Pocomoke High School.
"Ever since we were kids, Michael wanted to be a lawyer. He was our older brother, and we looked up to him," said Marc L. Scher, who now owns the Pocomoke business. "He was a natural student, and things came easily to him. He was always the teacher's pet and a tough act to follow."
Mr. Scher earned his bachelor's degree in 1976 from Rutgers University and his law degree in 1979 from the University of Maryland School of Law. He was a law clerk for Court of Special Appeals Judge Thomas Hunter Lowe before entering practice in 1980 with the firm of Tydings & Rosenberg in Baltimore. He eventually became a partner.
"Mike was here during the formative years, and he was so much a part of the spirit and foundation of the firm. He was a jack-of-all-trades in the beginning and then settled on real estate law with an emphasis on public housing," said William C. Sammons, a partner in Tydings & Rosenberg. "He brought a lot of luster to our firm and was an important part of our family."
From 1994 to 1995, Mr. Scher was general counsel to an environmental testing company before returning to his old firm. Since 2002, he had been at Miles & Stockbridge.
"He was an extraordinarily talented lawyer who got along well with clients, who loved working with him. He was as genuine as they come and as good as they get," said John B. Frisch, chairman of Miles & Stockbridge.
"He represented lenders, developers and the government in financing projects," and specialized in financing matters involving the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Paul D. Trinkoff, a corporate lawyer and partner in the firm. "It's an intricate area of the law, and he was good at it," he added.
"He had an easygoing affability in a profession that causes you to pick sides," Mr. Trinkoff said. "He was respected and liked by all those who came in contact with him. He had the ability to make adversaries into friends."
"He was what is called a transactional attorney, and he did very complicated deals. He did a lot of HUD work for the city and represented the Baltimore Development Corp. regarding loans for the Montgomery Park project," said Jeffrey P. Pillas, chief financial officer of BDC. "He also represented the BDC in the move of Morgan Stanley to the Bond Street Wharf."
Mr. Pillas said he was "extremely conscientious" and recalled a time when Mr. Scher was about to board a plane for a golfing trip but turned around and came back to the office to make sure all paperwork was in order for a client.
"He wanted to make sure that all the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed," he said.
"He was very unpretentious and modest about his accomplishments," said Frederick C. Leiner, a longtime friend who is a lawyer with the U.S. Justice Department.
As a connoisseur of popular culture, he enjoyed reading suspense and historical novels. He was a movie buff and was especially fond of the music of James Taylor.
"He was quite spontaneous, and we'd be driving along in the car and he'd suddenly burst into a James Taylor song," Mr. Leiner said.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Holloway Funeral Home in Salisbury.
In addition to his brother in Pocomoke, Mr. Scher is survived by his wife of 15 years, the former Julie Kiefaber, a teacher at Odyssey School; a 13-year-old son, Daniel M. Scher, an Odyssey student; his mother, Doris Kohan of Delray Beach, Fla.; another brother, Gary G. Scher of Ellicott City; and many nieces and nephews.