The Native Juice
By Candice Wiener
Make no mistake that when you talk about Las Vegas’ Top Lawyers, we’d be remiss not to make mention of power house criminal defense attorney, David Chesnoff. From celebrities, musicians, sports stars to the gaming world, Chesnoff is well known for representing the elite, wealthy and famous. David Chesnoff is a famed and celebrated attorney here in Las Vegas and even local prosecutors know they have their work cut out for them when he is retained by an alleged criminal. Chesnoff has boldly represented many of clients in criminal defense cases and other legal matters. Chesnoff is now managing partner of Chesnoff & Schonfeld and Richard Schonfeld is a partner in the firm. Formerly, Chesnoff was partners with Oscar Goodman and their law firm was formed after meeting one another back in 1985. When Goodman was elected as Mayor of Las Vegas, he remained partners with Chesnoff in the firm until 2001. With such a notable and nationally recognized law firm, it’s easy to see why clients look no further than to Chesnoff in order to retain the best in the business for their criminal defense and legal matters. When it comes to criminal cases, clients can face uncertainty in not knowing what their lives hold in store depending on the outcome of their case. Chesnoff and his firm provide the ultimate protection and overall secure feeling for clients, as they know he is a fearless leader who will fight for their rights in and out of the courtroom.
Real Vegas recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Chesnoff in his office downtown and have an up close and personal meeting with him. Most of us have seen him on televised programs and in the newspaper defending high profile celebrities and clients. What most of us don’t know or face is how he deals with the stressful complexities that come with representing these high-profile clients that he so tirelessly defends. To David, what helps alleviate such a demanding and stressful career and brings him peace and fulfillment is spending time at home with his wife Diana of 35 years and enjoying their dogs and horses at their ranch style estate. He also enjoys a playing golf and poker with a strong core of buddies that he considers his best friends. His favorite course to play golf at is Shadow Creek. Any chance he can get to play either golf or poker, he very much enjoys. David also likes to read… He doesn’t read a lot of legal matter material, of course, unless it pertains to work; but he enjoys reading novels and historical books. His most recent read was a publication focused on Ulysses S. Grant. David enjoys listening to Harvard Business School podcasts to learn things that about business that he has yet to learn and certainly knows the value of continuing education.
Chesnoff’s driving force and passion behind becoming a criminal defense attorney was the strong desire to stand up for the under-dog, to help uphold our nations’ constitution, which he stated is a sacred document. It’s very clear to see that David is extremely passionate about protecting people’s rights. We asked David if he could implement 3 things today to better the legal system, what would they be. He replied respectfully: “More civility between opposing lawyers. More scholarship. And requiring lawyers to do more pro-bono work.”
Some of David’s favorite and most notable clients he’s helped are Mike Tyson, whom he says he has great affection for and David Copperfield. He also represented Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton, in which he says were both lovely clients that he’s represented. Suge Knight was also a client that was always very dear to his heart. David has an empathetic understanding as to Suge’s past, where he came from and possesses an innate understanding of him and his life. These well-known clients are just to name a few on the hefty roster of celebrities and clients that Mr. Chesnoff has had the opportunity to represent.
Although we know, David isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and thoroughly enjoys his well-established career as a criminal defense attorney; hypothetically speaking, when asked- if he decided he was done practicing law tomorrow, what would he choose to pursue career wise, he stated “that’s a good question…” He said after working for people in the casino and gambling industry both directly and indirectly for 40 plus years, he would consider going into hospitality in some capacity. He truly enjoys seeing people happy and the hospitality industry caters to doing just that.
For a celebratory evening, David enjoys a nice bottle of Sassicaia (a nice bottle of Italian red wine), and his ideal night out on the town would consist of drinks at the High Limit bar at the Aria, followed by dinner at SW Steakhouse and then going to see Absinthe the show, which he has seen previously, but would enjoy going to see again. A few of his favorite restaurants, for obvious reasons, include SW Steakhouse at the Wynn, Lemongrass at the Aria, a well-known staple in Las Vegas; The Palm Restaurant at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s, and Michael Mina’s, Bardot Brasseire.
Chesnoff has traveled all over the world from a very young age. His brother was famous journalist and therefore he traveled often with him as well as with his Mother. David’s favorite travel destinations are Israel and Asia.
David is in fact a fan of various genres of music. He loves outlaw country, old school Motown and on his drive into his office, he enjoys getting revved up with new age music. He’s also a big fan of the Eagles. Although a celebrated attorney whose reputation clearly proceeds him, he also has a very humble and kind disposition. When it comes to automobiles, David is surprisingly a Ford pickup truck guy. Although he subtly mentioned that he does own 1 fancy car that he also enjoys.
Having played sports in his younger high school and college years, David is a fervent sports fan. His favorite teams are the Yankees and the Patriots. “What can I say? I love winners,” David jokingly laughed. He also professed his admiration for our newly anticipated Las Vegas Raiders team and clearly supports our new additions of local sports teams.
With Antonio Brown (formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his short stint with the Raiders and the Patriots) so frequently in the media earlier this football season, Chesnoff says: “It’s unfortunate he doesn’t have someone in his ear giving him more guidance and helping him to temper his own personal issues.” He agrees with our Real Vegas top sports analysts that Antonio’s too good of a player to be done with the NFL just yet. However, time will tell what’s in store for the famed wide receiver’s future and career.
With recreational and medicinal marijuana being made legal in the state of Nevada, we wanted to know David’s opinion on the still somewhat controversial topic and unsurprisingly, Mr. Chesnoff has absolutely been an advocate for the legalization of marijuana since he was 12 years old and has always believed it should be legal. “Anyone who’s in jail for a past marijuana charge should be let out.”
Mr. Chesnoff says he wouldn’t have done much different in his legal career, however; he would offer some sound and solid advice to an up and coming 21-year-old version of himself: “Take every time you go to court seriously. Study… And treat every case as though you were representing your own brother.” He also advises young aspiring attorneys to be progressive in their law practice approach.
Much like us here at Real Vegas, Mr. Chesnoff is a die-hard local. He loves Las Vegas. Some things he loves most about our community and city is the fact that you know everyone. Big city, small town… He loves the top-notch entertainment, restaurants, history and culture, as well as the incredibly talented people that our beloved city boasts, in all walks of life. He says, “we have some of the best judges, the best police department and people here in Las Vegas.”
Chesnoff recently represented a female client with the Innocence Project who was sentenced for a murder she did not commit, and he successfully helped reverse her conviction, resulting in her release.
David Chesnoff is passionate about implementing more alternative sentencing, our community having more adequate counseling readily available and more local resources for our youth. He is an advocate for youth right here in our community.
It’s no surprise to us that Mr. Chesnoff is an all-around good, intelligent and humble guy all the whilst being a well-respected power house attorney that continues to give back to our local community both in his personal and professional life.