The Craft: Kelsey Feehan, Civil Public Defense Attorney @ Bronx Defenders


Welcome to the second feature of The Craft, Novella's monthly series where we converse with women (like you!) and highlight the thoughtful, analytical, and creative methods behind the work we do. Read on to find out more about Kelsey, a staff attorney at a holistic public defense agency who appreciates good books and the lost art of away messages. 



Photo by Preet Mangat

What is your name and what do you do? (Links welcome!)

Kelsey Feehan, I am a civil public defense attorney with the Bronx Defenders. Generally speaking that means I handle the civil collateral consequences, such as the loss of affordable housing or public benefits, suffered by indigent folks in the Bronx engaged with the criminal, immigration or family “justice” systems. 

Take us through 24 hours of your day.

On a normal day, I wake up, snooze for an embarrassingly long time, always longer than I promised myself the night before, and wake up by scrolling Instagram. Then, I either have one of those days where I do a whole bunch of things that make me feel centered and awesome, (like prayer and meditation, a full skin routine, homemade coffee and breakfast) or I dick around and skip regimented things and commit to trying for morning regimentation again the next day :)

I commute about an hour both ways, and I spend my work day attending to the needs of my clients depending on urgency: so I could be heading straight to the Bronx housing court to negotiate a stop to a clients eviction, I could be in the office calling clients and city agency’s to advocate for my clients needs, or I could be at my desk making sure all my cases are properly organized and filed, up to date and that I know what’s approaching so nothing slips through the cracks. After work, I either go to appointments I need to handle, meet with a friend, or I head right home to my little heavenly apartment and kick it with Friends on Netflix and snacks and dinner and sweats.

Tell us one or two ways you practice self-care amid the workflow, whether your outlet is creative, therapeutic, or methodical.

I do a ton of things for self care, and my definition of self care is pretty broad. But the first thing that comes to mind is balance: I self regulate and pay close attention to what my body, mind and emotions need, and I give myself permission to voice those needs and to do what I need to do to address them.  I’m not on this earth to be miserable or useless, so if sacrifices must be made for self care to provide me the peace I need to keep trucking, then so be it.

The other thing that comes to mind is aesthetic: I love designing my apartment and coming home to a place I find aesthetically pleasing, and I feel the same way about my clothes, and even sometimes about my Instagram. Those things feed my creative side that doesn’t always get an outlet in law, and even the littlest creative outlets that are effortless and that I enjoy, like singing, even, and designing my home are amazingly rejuvenating breaks from the legal world.

What do you do to sharpen your craft or hone in on your skills?

Two things: read read read, and attend. I read books about racial justice non-stop to keep connected to where the movement is in thought and action, and to expand my analysis and deepen my language about   the issues I work on. I attend panels and events about issues I need more knowledge about or with people I'd like to work with or learn from whenever whenever whenever I can. Those two things are bar none on the top of my career and mental development plan. 

You’re taking off for the vacation/staycation of your dreams: what does your Out of Office message say?

Might have to go 2004 AIM away message on 'em:

NaP, gYm, nAp, NaP, nAp, cOfFee, lUncH w. My biDDIes, then?? sTaYcATIonIng uNtiL fUrtHeR nOtiCe, LEave It oR HiT thE CeLL <3

(I will be lightly reachable via email. Please forward all emergency requests to Susan.)

Sound like something you want to be a part of? Contact us at with your name, what you do, and a little bit of the how, and we'll be in touch with more information. Reach out, we're listening.

Stay tuned for big Novella news, coming soon!