After several years in Baron & Budd’s appellate section, shareholder Carla Burke Pickrel joined the Environmental Litigation Group in 2004. In her time with the Group, she has represented hundreds of public entities — villages, towns, cities, utilities, school districts, and states.

As one of the pioneers of the Group, she has worked to develop legal strategy for cases arising from MTBE, atrazine, and PCE contamination of drinking water supplies. Carla has played a critical part in nationwide litigation arising from MTBE contamination on behalf of more than 200 water providers in more than 20 states. She also played a major role in a recent nationwide class action settlement for providers whose water supplies are contaminated with atrazine, an agricultural chemical.

Putting her experience to work in new areas is an energizing part of Carla’s work. She is currently representing school districts whose buildings are contaminated with PCBs, chemical compounds found in some construction materials. This channels Carla’s deep respect for all those who work in the nation’s public schools. “My mother worked for public schools for thirty years. She felt that she was a part of her students’ and parents’ lives and took that responsibility seriously. So do I.”

Her work has earned her recognition by professional organizations. Carla was named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star of Texas Law” (Thomson Reuters, 2006) and, with her colleagues, was twice-nominated for Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award — in 2009 and in 2013.

While in law school at Southern Methodist University, Carla was on a team that successfully represented a disabled man whose lack of medical treatment while in the custody of the Dallas county jail amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. After graduation, she returned to SMU as an adjunct clinical instructor of law to brief and argue the appeal of Lawson v. Dallas County, 112 F.3d 257 (5th Cir. 2002) before the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Carla’s work is motivated by the results she sees at Baron & Budd. “The work we do helps entire communities. Baron & Budd makes people’s everyday lives better,” she says.


  • Panelist, “Water Contamination,” Harris Martin MDL Conference: The Significance of Proposed Rule Changes in MDL Procedures & Valsartan Agenda, 2019
  • Speaker, “How to Deal with Other Contaminants in Drinking Water,” Harris Martin Water Contamination Litigation Conference, 2018
  • Panelist, “Best Legal Claims and Defenses,” Harris Martin Lumber Liquidators Flooring Litigation Conference, May 27, 2015.
  • Panelist, “Scientific Evidence in Environmental and Toxic Torts Litigation,” Mason Judicial Education Program Conference on Environmental Economics, Law, and Litigation, November 18, 2013.
  • Panelist, “Scientific Evidence in Environmental and Toxic Torts Litigation,” Mason Judicial Education Program Conference on Environmental Economics, Law, and Litigation, March 2, 2013.
  • Panelist, “Setting the Bar for ‘Injury’ in Environmental Exposure Cases: How Low Can It Go?” Environmental Law Institute Seminar, 2012
  • Panelist, “Emerging Issues Regarding Toxins Affecting Water,” American Association for Justice Annual Convention, 2010.
  • Speaker, “Water Contamination: What Lies Beneath,” Harris Martin Oil Spill Litigation Conference, 2010.
  • Panelist, “Are There Synergistic Effects Between Toxic Tort Suits and Environmental Regulations?” Environmental Law Institute, 2006.
  • Speaker, “Update on MTBE Litigation,” Energy Litigation Conference, 2005.
  • Co-Presenter, “Premises Liability Cases: What Does the Future Hold?” Andrews Asbestos Litigation Conference, 2003.
  • Co-Presenter, “Texas Supreme Court Update,” Dallas Court of Appeals Seminar, 2000.


  • Co-Author, “Toxic Torts and Mass Torts,” 57 SMU Law Review 1267 (2004).
  • Contributor, “Toxic Torts and Mass Torts,” 56 SMU Law Review 2053 (2003).
  • Contributor, “Toxic Torts and Mass Torts,” 55 SMU Law Review 1375 (2002).
  • Co-Author, “Applying Texas Premises Liability Law to Asbestos Cases,” COLUMNS, September 2001.

Reported Cases

  • Suffolk County Water Auth. v Dow Chem. Co., 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5350 (N.Y.A.D. 2d Dep’t 2014); 44 Misc. 3d 569, 570 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2014)
  • City of Greenville v. Syngenta Crop Prot., Inc., 904 F. Supp. 2d 902 (S.D. Ill. 2012); 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44986 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 19, 2013); 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171729 (S.D. Ill. Dec. 4, 2012)
  • Emerald Coast Utils. Auth. v. 3M Co., 746 F. Supp. 2d 1216 (N.D. Fla. 2010)
  • Nelson v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 102 Cal.Rptr.3d 311 (Cal.App. 3 Dist. Nov 20, 2009)
  • In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (“MTBE”) Prods. Liab. Litig., 510 F. Supp. 2d 299 (S.D.N.Y. 2007); 457 F.Supp.2d 324 (S.D.N.Y. 2006); 438 F.Supp.2d 291 (S.D.N.Y. 2006); 415 F.Supp.2d 261 (S.D.N.Y. 2005); 2005 WL 39918 (S.D.N.Y. Jan 06, 2005)
  • Adams v. A.J. Ballard, Jr. Tire & Oil Co., 2006 NCBC 9, 1 (N.C. Super. Ct. 2006)
  • Lawson v. Dallas County, 286 F.3d 257 (5th Cir. 2002).
  • Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Bailey, 92 S.W.3d 577 (Tex.App.–Austin 2002).
  • Caudillo ex rel. Caudillo v. Lubbock Independent School Dist., 331 F.Supp.2d 550 (N.D.Tex 2004)


Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (J.D. 1999)

Southern Methodist University (M.A. 1994, B.A. 1991)

Bar & Court Admissions


New York

United States Supreme Court

United States Court of Appeals–5th Circuit

United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois


Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers (National Trial Lawyers, 2016-2017)

Professional Associations

American Association for Justice

Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Court

College of the State Bar of Texas

Dallas Bar Association (Fellow)

Dallas Trial Lawyers Association

National Trial Lawyers: Top 100

Public Justice

Texas Trial Lawyers Association