Donald Nelson Isken

Of Counsel

(302) 425-4677 F

Don is top-ranked by Chambers USA: Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business for real estate in Delaware.

Don heads up the Morris Nichols commercial real estate law practice.

During the past 40 years he has gained a national reputation representing prominent property owners and developers, financial institutions and governmental entities in every facet of their transactional real estate law and land use regulation needs. 

His clients include real estate developers and institutional lenders locally and in the United States, such as Artesian Water Company, Inc., Barclays Bank, The Delaware River and Bay Authority, The Port of Wilmington, and The State of Delaware.

Don regularly engages in matters involving site selection and land acquisition, obtaining land use and project approvals and permits, securing government grants, tax credits and loan financing, development of transportation and utility infrastructure, hiring of construction project managers, architects and contractors, and oversight in project sales and leasing.  He was a member of the team that assisted The State of Delaware with its development of the Wilmington Riverfront district, one of America’s premiere examples of successful urban renaissance, through a public-private partnership, of what was once an abandoned and dilapidated industrial part of the City of Wilmington.

In 1990, Don became one of the youngest attorneys ever to be invited for membership into the prestigious American College of Real Estate Lawyers.  He is a top-ranked Delaware real estate lawyer in Chambers USA: Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.  Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for more than 20 years, and in 2014 Best Lawyers named Don “Delaware Lawyer of the Year” for Real Estate Law.  He has been selected for inclusion in Delaware Super Lawyers.  Major media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY solicit and report Don’s opinions about current perspectives on issues such as the 2008 U.S. subprime and mortgage foreclosure crisis.

Professional Activities

  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • Bucknell University (Board of Trustees)
  • Delaware State Bar Association
    • Real Property Committee
    • Co-Chair of Sub-committee to revise Delaware Unit Property Act (1989-1992)
    • Community Service Award Recipient (2012)

Community Activities

  • The Arc of Delaware (Vice President and Board Member; Recipient of the President’s Award for improving the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities
  • Interfaith Housing Taskforce (Honored for enhancing the availability of affordable housing)
  • Homes for Life Foundation (Board Member)
  • Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (Former Board Member)

Representative Matters

  • Represented purchaser of a major oil refinery in a $1 billion transaction.  Handled all land use, real estate permitting and regulatory matters for the refinery for more than 20 years.
  • Served as counsel to buyer in connection with its $100 million purchase and subsequent refinance of a 440,000 sq. ft. high rise office building in downtown Wilmington, Del.
  • Represented JPMorgan Chase Bank in its development of two $500 million state-of-the-art international data centers.
  • Acted as counsel to an investor in the purchase and subsequent disposition of a multi-state, egg production company to a Japan-based agricultural group.
  • Represented The State of Delaware in various projects connected with the development of the Wilmington Riverfront.
  • Engaged by a consortium of 42 physicians in connection with the development of a major neurosciences health care facility.
  • Represented Condé Nast Publishing in connection with administrative office relocation from New York City to Wilmington, Del.
  • Represents large regional airport in land use regulatory matters and in a wide variety of real estate issues, including leasing of airport facilities, federal grants in aid and dealings with commercial airlines.
  • Represents Port of Wilmington in wide variety of leasing and real estate matters.


35 Morris Nichols Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® 2020

Wilmington, DE (August 15, 2019) – Thirty-five Morris Nichols attorneys were selected for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®. The results are based on peer-review evaluations from more than 94,000 eligible attorneys. Seven firm attorneys received “Lawyer of the Year” designations (noted with an asterisk below).... Continue Reading

15 Morris Nichols Attorneys Selected for Inclusion in 2019 Delaware Super Lawyers

Fifteen Morris Nichols attorneys have been selected for inclusion in 2019 Delaware Super Lawyers.  Derek C. Abbott and William M. Lafferty appear on the “Top 10” list recognizing the Delaware lawyers who received the highest point totals – with Bill designated as the “Number One” attorney on the Top 10. In addition,... Continue Reading

Chambers USA 2019 Ranks Morris Nichols Top Tier for Four Delaware Practices; 26 Attorneys Named Leading Delaware Practitioners

Wilmington, DE (April 25, 2019) – The 2019 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Guide to Leading Lawyers for Business has again ranked Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP as a leading Delaware law firm in four practice categories. For more than a decade, Morris Nichols has consistently been ranked Band 1 in Chambers’ Delaware tables for... Continue Reading