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Charles Shewmake focuses his practice on commercial litigation, labor and employment, regulatory matters, and environmental litigation. Since joining Thompson & Knight, Charles has worked with railroads and railroad-related litigation or regulatory matters from state district courts to the United States Supreme Court. Charles prides himself on being able to translate the arcana of railroad law (including the Railway Labor Act, which applies to airlines as well as railroads) to non-railroaders or businesses looking to learn more about railroads. In addition to his transportation clients, Charles has also been involved in litigation and dispute resolution for a number of other industries since joining the Firm.

Charles spent the majority of his career with BNSF Railway Corporation, including most recently serving as Vice President and General Counsel for more than eight years. In that role, he managed a team of more than 100 attorneys and claims professionals as well as outside counsel and was responsible for casualty litigation, safety-related legal matters, labor and employment matters, and environmental legal matters. During his career at BNSF, Charles also coordinated the activities of the State Government Affairs team, with responsibility for state legislative and political activities in 28 states. His experience also includes complex shareholder litigation, antitrust litigation, personal injury litigation, environmental litigation, and commercial arbitration as well as emergency response management.

Received a national first-tier ranking for Commercial Litigation in U.S. News - Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” 2019

Vice President and General Counsel for BNSF Railway, 2008-2016

Member, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel

Prior Employment

  • BNSF Railway Corporation, 1988-2016
    • Vice President and General Counsel, 2008-2016
    • Assistant Vice President, Law, 2007-2008
    • Assistant Vice President, State Government Affairs, 2004-2007
    • Senior General Attorney and Various Other Roles, 1990-2004

Honors & Affiliations


  • Member, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC)
  • Member, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel

Education & Admissions


  • AMP Executive Business Program, 2007, Harvard University
  • J.D., 1990, Texas Tech University School of Law
  • B.A., 1987, The University of Texas at Arlington


  • Texas
  • California