David Schoen, a solo practitioner, focuses primarily on the litigation of complex civil and criminal cases before trial and appellate courts. David accepts only a few cases each year so that he can give full personal attention to every aspect of the case from evaluation and intake through its resolution.
Mr. Schoen has offices in New York and Alabama, but takes on cases from all around the country and overseas, associating the most qualified lawyers to serve as local counsel or to provide a particular area of substantive expertise as part of the litigation team when necessary. As soon as David agrees to take a case, he immediately begins to investigate the facts, obtain and study all relevant documents and immerse himself in the substantive area or areas of law at issue.
With over 30 years in practice, David has extensive complex litigation experience as lead counsel in trial and appellate courts throughout the country. He is a member of the Bar in Alabama, New York, Maryland, and the District of Columbia and has been admitted to practice law in all state and federal courts in those jurisdictions, as well as federal trial courts in Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, many federal courts of appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. David has appeared pro hac vice in many other jurisdictions. He has been lead counsel in complex criminal and civil cases at the trial level in many jurisdictions and has briefed and argued appeals in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, and DC Circuits, the Texas Court of Appeals, and the Alabama Supreme Court. He has represented parties before the United States Supreme Court and has filed amicus briefs before the Court as well.
Following graduation cum laude from Boston College Law School in 1984, David accepted a job with the Washington, DC office of a large national law firm, but deferred for a year to go to the Deep South to pursue his long-held interest in civil rights litigation, at the suggestion of his mentor, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., David served for a year as a law clerk to the Honorable Truman M. Hobbs, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, who had been Alabama’s preeminent trial lawyer for a generation prior to taking the bench. David also benefitted greatly from the gracious support, encouragement, and mentoring from the Honorable Frank M. Johnson, one of the true heroes of the federal judiciary. Through the clerkship, David’s desire to pursue a career as a trial lawyer grew tremendously. Instead of returning to Washington and a large law firm setting after the year, David asked the firm for a release from his commitment and opened the Law Office of David I. Schoen in Montgomery, Alabama and immediately began trying cases and arguing appeals in cases in both state and federal courts.
In 1995, David was honored by the American Bar Association with its national pro bono public award. In bestowing this prestigious award on David, the American Bar Association reported that the various federal judges its Committee had interviewed during the award evaluation period had credited David with accomplishing more through his litigation than any lawyer of this era to positively change the face of public institutions in the South. Those institutions include public schools, foster care, prisons, jails, indigent defense systems, voting rights, fair housing, and more.
In 2015, David was honored by Boston College Law School with its Honorable David S. Nelson Public Interest Award, named for a great federal judge and humanitarian.
From the outset of opening his law practice, David combined criminal defense work with civil rights work. He immediately began racking up wins in criminal cases ranging from capital murder to rape, robbery, narcotics offenses, and other violent crimes through hard work, thorough preparation, dogged investigation, and directed, relentless cross-examination. Retained in appeals in tough cases others had lost at trial, David immediately scored wins in state and federal courts of appeals, getting convictions reversed, often based on creative, novel legal theories not previously recognized. Experiences in some of these early cases led David to recognize systemic problems in the criminal justice system and other institutional services and he developed a civil practice designed primarily to seek remedies for some of these institutional problems, generally through class actions.
Since 1990, David’s criminal defense practice has extended from Alabama to Michigan, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, West Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and elsewhere, with a heavy concentration in New York City. David has litigated a tremendous variety of criminal cases in various jurisdictions, including complicated racketeering cases, international organized crime cases, treaty transfer matters, criminal trademark infringement cases, and a heavy focus on white collar defense, involving charges of securities violations, various kinds of fraud, money laundering, and more, along with criminal and civil forfeiture cases. In recent years, a significant portion of the practice has been devoted to representing officers and directors of publicly traded and privately held companies with respect to criminal investigations they have faced. In several cases, the government has been persuaded that no criminal charges should be brought. In others, David has defended the case after criminal charges were brought and took the case to a successful resolution.
Another practice area developed over the years focuses on collateral or post-conviction representation, often challenging the conviction based on a constitutional error, many times arising from the trial lawyer’s ineffective assistance of counsel. Many more cases in this area are rejected than are accepted, after a thorough evaluation; but meritorious cases are accepted and will be diligently pursued. David has had success in overturning convictions and lengthy prison sentences on collateral review on several occasions, leading to landmark decisions, based on the trial lawyer’s conflict of interests or other deficiency in representing the defendant at trial.
The civil litigation branch of the practice continues to include civil rights litigation, ranging from employment discrimination, to police brutality and other misconduct, to prisoners’ rights, voting rights, ballot access, religious rights, free speech rights, and more, with a heavy concentration in recent years on litigating cases under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act on behalf of American victims of terrorism.
David’s civil litigation focuses as well on complex commercial litigation, including allegations of trademark infringement and counterfeiting, as well as contract disputes and fraud, security clearance and government contract issues, and civil forfeiture among other areas. A growing practice area is the prosecution of products liability, personal injury and wrongful death cases. The civil litigation practice, like the criminal practice, extends over a broad geographic area, with local counsel brought on board as necessary.
In recent years, David also has been called upon to review and negotiate contracts for professional athletes and entertainers and to advise them with respect to endorsement and other opportunities and to handle litigation needs that arise for such clients.
In addition to his law practice, David has taught as an adjunct professor in the fields of Criminal Procedure, Trial Skills, and the First Amendment and has lectured widely in continuing legal education programs in these fields and in the fields of Legal Ethics, Civil Rights Litigation, litigation under the Anti-Terrorism Act, and Evidence. David has also served as a moot court judge at Columbia University Law School, Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law, and for the American Bar Association. He holds a Master of Laws degree with a concentration in Criminal Law/Procedure and Legal Education from Columbia University Law School.
David has served as a consultant to and as an Officer or Director on the Boards of a variety of public interest and civic organizations, including the Alabama Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Alabama Prison Project, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Montgomery, AL Chapter), the Zionist Organization of America (National Board of Directors), The Center for Law and Justice (Founding Board Member), the Alabama Civil Liberties Union, the Torah Day School of Atlanta, Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael, and others. He has been honored by a leading Israeli institution for the welfare of children with its Migdal Ohr Tower of Light Award. David also has served on many professional committees, including the Middle District of Alabama U.S. District Court Committee on Local Criminal Rules, the New York State Bar Committee on Civil Practice Rules, and the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section Committees on Trial Evidence, Legal Ethics, and Indigent Defense, Civil Rights (Chair, Criminal Justice subcommittee), and International Litigation (Chair, Africa and Middle East subcommittee).
BAR ADMISSIONS: MD, AL, NY, DC, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, and DC Circuits, All federal trial courts in MD, AL, NY, and DC, E.D. Michigan, N.D. Texas, N.D. Illinois.
Columbia University Law School
New York, New York, 1992
Master of Laws
Boston College Law School
Newton Centre, Massachusetts, 1984
Honors: Cum Laude
George Washington Univ.
Washington, D.C., 1980
Bachelor of Arts