Emerson L. Dorsey

Emerson chairs the business, corporate, and tax department at the firm.  An experienced real estate attorney, he also serves as general outside business counsel to numerous privately held companies as well as religious and tax-exempt organizations in Maryland.

In his real estate practice, he counsels developers and builders in the acquisition, financing, and development of commercial, industrial, and residential property.  He represents residential project owners and managers, condominium and homeowner associations, office building and industrial park owners, and landlords and tenants of commercial, industrial, and retail properties.  He also advises clients in commercial lending transactions.

Emerson’s clients often rely on his counsel for matters outside the real estate sector.  He serves as outside general counsel to several large religious institutions and other tax-exempt organizations.  In this role, he provides a wide range of legal services such as governance, corporate, labor and employment, real estate and commercial transactions, construction, immigration, and intellectual property (trademarks and copyright) matters.  Emerson also focuses a great deal on risk management and preventative law planning, educating clients regarding new laws and developments.

Representative Matters

In recent years, Emerson has:

  • Served as lead counsel in mixed-used developments in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, including a senior housing/office space development and an ongoing $100 million project for a religious institution involving worship, residential, educational, and recreational space;
  • Advocated for clients in land use matters and zoning issues (special exceptions, variances, conditional uses, as well as re-zoning), as well as local jurisdiction administrative and development plan approvals;
  • Represented developers in all aspects of commercial real estate projects, including land acquisition, development, financing, construction, and sales;
  • Advocated on behalf of landlords and tenants in the leasing of thousands of square feet of office, retail, and industrial space;
  • Counseled commercial and residential owners and builders in matters of construction disputes, lien claims, and general construction matters;
  • Represented developers in residential projects and the establishment of condominium, co-op, and homeowner associations;
  • Represented institutional lenders in issuance of commercial loans and, as needed, workout or foreclosure of loans; and
  • Advised numerous purchasers and sellers in the acquisition and sale of businesses.


In 2022, Emerson was appointed to the board of directors of Maryland Legal Aid, an organization that provides life-changing, high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income, and marginalized individuals and communities.  From 2008-2013, Emerson was appointed and served as a member of the Baltimore County Ethics Commission.  He also served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Central Maryland, as well as the organization’s Executive Committee, chaired the Board and Volunteer Development Committee from 2005 to 2011, and served on its Baltimore City Partnership Board until 2018.  Previously, he was a member of the boards of directors of Advance Bank (2000-2013), Friends of the Family, Inc. (1991-2005), the Maryland Aviation Commission (1995-1997), and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Alumni Association (1999-2010).

In addition to authoring and contributing to various articles and books, Emerson speaks on real estate-related topics for bar associations and other groups.  He moderated a program at the 9th Annual American Bar Association Conference on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law in Washington, D.C., and lectured on "Contracts with the Homebuyer and Mandatory Disclosures under Federal, State and Local Law," for the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers in 1995 and 1998.  He served as a member of the Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association's Real Property, Planning & Zoning Section and is a member of the Wednesday Law Club.

Emerson was named a Top 100 Lawyer in 2015 and 2016 by the National Black Lawyers and to the list of the 2013 Top-Rated Lawyers in Real Estate Law by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell.  Since 2010, he has been recognized by Maryland Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top attorneys in Maryland for his real estate, business/corporate, and land use/zoning practices.  Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are named by Super Lawyers.  The selections are made by the research team at Super Lawyers, which is a service of the Thomson Reuters, Legal Division.  He is AV® Peer Review Rated – the highest possible peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Attorney Profile
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (J.D., 1979) Member, Moot Court Board
  • Towson University (B.S., cum laude, 1976)
Bar Admissions
  • State of Maryland
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • American Bar Association, Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, Business Law, and State and Local Government Sections
  • Maryland Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Maryland State Bar Association, Real Property, Planning & Zoning, and Business Sections
  • Maryland Land Title Association
  • American Land Title Association
  • Wednesday Law Club
  • United Way of Central Maryland, Baltimore Partnership Board, 2011-2018; Board of Directors, 2005-2011; Executive Committee, chair of the board and Volunteer Development Committee, 2007-2012
  • Frederick High School (Maryland) distinguished Alumni, 2018
  • Speaker, "Commercial Real Estate Closings" program presented by Maryland State Bar Association's Real Property and Young Lawyers Sections, 2014
  • Advance Bank, Board of Directors, 2000-2013
  • Baltimore County Ethics Commission, 2008-2013
  • University of Maryland School of Law Alumni Association, Board of Directors, 1999-2010
  • Maryland Family Network, Inc. (formerly Friends of the Family, Inc.), Board of Directors, 1991-2005
  • Lecturer, Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers program "Contracts with the Homebuyer and Mandatory Disclosures under Federal, State and Local Law," 1995 and 1998
  • Maryland Aviation Commission, Board of Directors, 1995-1997
  • Leadership Baltimore County, Class of 1991
  • Maryland Assistant Attorney General, 1980-1985