Pooja Chawla knew early on that family law held a special place in her heart and mind. After graduating from Birmingham School of Law in 2009, she began providing pro bono services through Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham. Her volunteer work was predominately divorce, custody, and child-support cases, so early on she was exposed to that type of family law. In these cases, people had waited for years to get some legal relief but they could not afford to hire a lawyer. “So, helping a client reach a resolution was very satisfactory and gave me a meaning and purpose.” In 2010, she was certified as a guardian ad litem and began representing the “best interest” of minor children. Being a voice for children and looking out for their best interests was a great beginning to Pooja’s journey of becoming a better lawyer.
The unique nature of family law is that one particular “area” is surrounded by other issues. Divorce is rarely just about the dissolution of a marriage and spouses going their separate ways, but also includes the well-being of children. In the context of child custody cases, focusing on the child’s “best interests” means that all custody and visitation discussions and decisions are made with the ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging the child’s happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood.
Strong people skills and compassion are especially important for family lawyers. The ability to relate calmly and constructively with people who may be emotionally vulnerable is also a must given the deeply personal issues that are inherent to family law.
Pooja Chawla, P.C.
Recognized to the Mid-South Super Lawyers Rising Star List in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Pooja is a solo practitioner with a focus on Family, Criminal, Appellate law and Mediation. She serves as chair of the New Lawyer Mentoring Program with the Birmingham Bar Association and is a member of the National Legal Mentoring Consortium committed to developing better strategies for mentoring young attorneys. A graduate of many state and local leadership programs, Pooja is the past President of the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham Board of Trustees. She received her J.D. from Birmingham School of Law in 2009. Pooja is a native of New Delhi, India and has resided in Birmingham, Alabama for over 20 years.
Pooja has been recognized as one of the Top Family Law Attorneys 2022 by B-Metro. Pooja has also earned recognition by her peers and was recognized by B-Metro Magazine as one of Birmingham’s Top Women Attorneys for four years in a row – 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. She was further recognized by B-Metro as Top Flight Attorneys for 2019 and has been recognized as Top Birmingham Attorneys 2020 by Birmingham Magazine. In 2021, Pooja was elected and serves on the Executive Committee of the Birmingham Bar Association. At present, Pooja also serves on Alabama State Bar’s Pro Bono Committee and chairs efforts to expand lawyer pro bono services in the State of Alabama. Pooja has also served as Special District Judge and as Special Master in Jefferson County, Bessemer Division.
Pooja has been a guest speaker for various statewide legal professional events covering an array of topics including Professionalism & Ethics for attorneys, a Bench and Bar Retreat, Leadership Forum, and Juvenile Justice. For the past many years, she has served as a panelist on Path to Success with Cumberland School of Law and is often a regular annual speaker at She Empowers, an event celebrating empowering and inspiring women. She is multi-lingual and can speak Hindi, Punjabi, French and English.
Q & A
What have some your legal career highlights been?
I began appellate practice during the pandemic in late 2020. In my short time doing appellate work, I have had two cases reversed and have one landmark ruling on an issue of first impression.
The landmark ruling is M.L. v. Jefferson County Department of Human Resources (Ala.Civ.App. 2022). Earlier this year, I presented oral arguments in front of Alabama Court of Civil Appeals 2200948. I appealed on behalf of my client, a mother, for termination of her parental rights to her child who was over 18 years old. My arguments were related to the statutory authority of one of the statutes as listed under Ala. Juvenile Justice Act. I argued that this statute does not give the juvenile court authority to terminate the parental rights of a parent of a child who is over 18 years of age. This was an issue of first impression, which means that there is no other case law that address this issue. All five justices concurred and reversed the juvenile court’s decision termination mother’s parental rights to her 18-year-old child. Going forward, this case will set a precedent for similar issues.
Pooja Chawla, P.C.
2107 5th Avenue North, Suite 401-G,
Birmingham, AL 35203
Facebook – @attorneychawla
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