Practice groups

Railroad Law, Litigation and Regulatory Counsel

Transportation Law

Workers' Compensation


Duquesne University School of Law, J.D. (1974)

Temple University, B.A. (1968)

Bar Admissions


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J. Lawson Johnston


Two PPG Place, Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-5402
T: 800-243-5412
D: 412-281-7272
F: 888-811-7144

J. Lawson Johnston is a shareholder of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C. He concentrates his practice in the areas of transportation law and commercial law and litigation, with specific emphasis in railroad litigation, toxic tort, and occupational disease.

Mr. Johnston possesses a strong background in civil litigation, employer liability, maritime, and administrative law matters, including OSHA, Public Utility Commission, Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and Black Lung Benefits Act — all areas upon which he has lectured extensively. He has represented Class I and Short Line railroads successfully in pre-trial matters and trials for over 30 years in FELA (Federal Employers’ Liability Act), crossing accident, and trespasser injury cases. In addition, he has represented the hospitality industry and national motor carriers in general liability matters.

Mr. Johnston formerly served as Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and presided over the first Tort Division for the Commonwealth in Western Pennsylvania after sovereign immunity was abolished.

Professional Accomplishments:

  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • The Best Lawyers in America©:  2015 "Lawyer of the Year" in Railroad Law for Pittsburgh
  • The Best Lawyers in America®:  Railroad Law

Representative Matters:

  • Obtained dismissal of eight occupational lung disease cases filed by former employees of a national railway company following Frye hearing at which judge precluded testimony of plaintiffs’ medical expert
  • Successfully defended Class I railroad in jury trial in head-on train collision involving four deaths of railroad employees
  • Successfully defended Class I and Short Line railroads in numerous FELA, crossing accident and trespasser trials
  • Involved in supervising railroad personnel in investigating catastrophic injuries and derailments and coordinating railroad response to National Safety Transportation Board and Federal Railroad Administration, leading to successful early amicable resolution of  injury and property damage claims
  • Successfully represented railroads in OSHA matters involving death of employees in claims involving railroad rules violations

Speaking Engagements:

  • “OSHA Proposed Constricted Recordkeeping Rules:  Best Compliance Practices Uncovered!” (Co-Speaker); live webcast; The Knowledge Group; 3/18/2016

Admissions and Licenses:

  • Pennsylvania Bar Admission
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania


  • Allegheny County Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association

Community Involvement:

  • Keystone Bulldog Rescue of SWPA (Pro Bono Counsel)
  • Neighborhood Legal Services Association (protection from abuse actions)


  • J.D., Duquesne University School of Law (1974)
  • B.A., Temple University (1968)