Kelsey Penna

Updated on February 28th, 2023 at 09:23 pm

Kelsey Penna is a senior attorney at Bruckheim & Patel. Ms. Penna is a litigation attorney focused on protecting the constitutional rights of her clients. Her client-centered approach combines a vigorous drive to defend clients’ legal rights with a capacity to listen and understand their personal concerns with compassion.

Ms. Penna represents clients in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia and at the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles. She focuses her practice area on representing clients in Civil Protective Order (CPO) matters, expungement/sealing of cases, traffic and other criminal offenses, and family law matters for the firm. She works tirelessly to achieve excellence and ensure the best possible settlement or resolution for her clients.

Ms. Penna additionally specializes in misdemeanor and felony criminal appellate work. Many of the appeals that she works on are currently pending at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She has received successful victories through her appellate practice, most recently expanding upon Fourth Amendment precedent protecting individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the Metropolitan Police officers in the District. Through Ms. Penna’s advocacy, criminal defendants will benefit and be better protected in the future.

Ms. Penna handles matters outside of the traditional courtroom setting as well. Specifically, she focuses on Title IX administrative hearings. In Title IX administrative cases, Ms. Penna acts as an attorney advisor counseling her clients through every step of the process to better prepare them and achieve the most favorable outcome. These cases often deal with sensitive topics, and Ms. Penna is able to provide comfort and support to navigate the system effortlessly. She has experience representing clients at most of the local D.C. colleges and universities, as each school can have different Title IX procedures.

Ms. Penna has been a proud member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel of D.C. Superior Court since 2020, representing indigent clients in criminal and traffic matters. This experience has allowed Ms. Penna to hone her litigation skills by successfully trying cases and mitigating to receive dismissals or favorable plea offers from the government.

The attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel work closely with each other on all aspects of cases to receive the best possible results for their clients. Through this close mentorship, Ms. Penna has become an expert in defending driving under the influence (DUI) cases in the District. She has joined partners, Michael Bruckheim and Sweta Patel, to assist in teaching their continuing legal education course through the DC Bar, focusing on DUI litigation techniques.

Prior to joining Bruckheim & Patel, Ms. Penna worked on the other side of the bench as a judicial law clerk in Magistrate Chambers at D.C. Superior Court. As the Criminal Division law clerk, she supported the six Magistrate Judges assigned to the arraignment, preliminary hearing, domestic violence, and traffic calendars. Ms. Penna managed a high-volume of incoming motions and drafted hundreds of orders to seal, giving her expertise in the expungement process. She is now the expert sealing attorney for the firm and co-teaches a continuing legal education class on the subject for the DC Bar.

Throughout her clerkship, she developed relationships with each judge, which allowed her to gain a unique understanding of the law and litigation techniques from their perspective. Ms. Penna’s familiarity and insider knowledge of how to navigate through D.C. Superior Court in both criminal, civil, and family matters give her an upper hand in representing her clients compared to other practicing attorneys in the District.

In addition to Ms. Penna’s criminal background, she has experience in family law matters as well. While working as an attorney for the Women and the Law and Domestic Violence Clinics in law school, she successfully represented clients in obtaining CPOs, custody, and divorce agreements. She has expanded upon this experience while at Bruckheim & Patel as the lead attorney on many uncontested divorce settlement agreements and child custody matters.

As the CPO attorney at the firm, she has represented both petitioners and respondents. No matter which side Ms. Penna is representing, she zealously advocates for her clients by negotiating out-of-court settlement agreements or, when necessary, fighting the case at trial to either obtain a CPO or defend against a petition.

During law school, Ms. Penna was a teaching fellow for the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project where she taught students at Anacostia High School about criminal and constitutional law and how it applies to their daily lives. She participated in the Pro Bono Honors Pledge and received the Highest Grade Certification for the Women and the Law Clinic.

In her free time, she enjoys practicing hot yoga and exploring the many wineries and hiking trails in the DMV area.

Since joining the firm in 2018, Ms. Penna has earned recognition as Washington DC Rising Stars Super Lawyer, National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, and received Avvo Clients’ Choice Award. She has an ‘Excellent’ rating on Avvo, a website compiling attorney reviews from peers and clients in the community.

Ms. Penna earned her Juris Doctor from American University Washington College of Law. She graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and English. Ms. Penna is barred in the District of Columbia.

If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation and need a D.C. criminal defense attorney or civil attorney, contact Kelsey Penna today by calling 202-445-5299 or sending a confidential message to for a free consultation.


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