RAPID DEFENSE NETWORK provides rapid legal representation on a pro bono basis to immigrants facing unlawful and imminent detention or deportation. By leveraging partnerships with well-resourced leading law firms and law school clinics, mentoring their teams of attorneys on the successful legal techniques pioneered by Rapid Defense Network, we are able to efficiently and relentlessly address the soaring demand for our services.

OUR STORY

Rapid Defense Network (RDN) launched in January 2019 as an innovative legal services organization dedicated to providing rapid pro bono legal assistance to non-citizens facing imminent deportation or detention.

Over 1 million non-citizens without current immigration status in the United States have final orders of removal. This is approximately 10% of all non-citizens without status. Many are unaware that they were ordered removed because the government frequently fails to provide notice of immigration court hearings. The Trump Administration’s systematic crackdown on immigration has put these vulnerable community members at a heightened risk of detention and deportation without any semblance of due process: without notice, warning, or an opportunity to challenge being torn from their communities – even though many individuals have strong claims to protection from removal. The government has also employed increasingly aggressive and clandestine tactics to carry out this mandate.

To combat these efforts, RDN has made it its mission to provide rapid legal defense to protect non-citizens who are detained or on a fast-track to be deported. RDN is unique because of Gregory and Sarah’s expertise in emergency litigation, their innovative legal techniques that are now being replicated nation-wide, and their willingness to take on – and win – cases that most others refuse. 

MEET THE TEAM

LEGAL DIRECTORS

SARAH GILLMAN

Sarah Gillman is a co-Legal Director of Rapid Defense Network. Sarah has been defending non-citizens who are detained and facing removal since 2007. She has an extensive background in defending detained non-citizens in proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review and in the federal courts.  Sarah was instrumental in the development of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the nation’s first public defender system for detained non-citizens funded by the New York City Council. From 2012-2014, Sarah was an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Washington Square Legal Services where she taught the Immigrant and Advanced Rights Clinics.  Sarah is the proud granddaughter of her maternal grandfather who was Armenian and paternal grandfather who was Lithuanian. They both came to the United States to seek safety and stayed for the remainder of their lives. She is a graduate of Earlham College and CUNY School of Law, and is a member of the New York State Bar, and admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of New York, and the District of Columbia; and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Third Circuit, the Fourth Circuit, the Fifth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit, the Eleventh Circuit and the D.C. Circuit.

GREGORY COPELAND

Gregory Copeland is a co-Legal Director of Rapid Defense Network. Prior to RDN, Gregory built a prominent rapid response federal immigration litigation practice as a Supervising Attorney at a non-profit. He also worked as a litigator at the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Gregory has extensive experience litigating civil rights issues, with a particular focus on the writ of habeas corpus. He left private practice following the announcement of racist and unlawful Muslim ban in 2017. He is a graduate of Brown University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, a member of the state bars of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as the U.S. District Courts for Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and the Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of New York, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Gregory is a member of The American Immigration Lawyers Association, The Federal Bar Association, and The Federal Bar Council. 

MEET THE BOARD

Gui Stampur

CHAIR

Lawyer, social entrepreneur, and activist. Co-founder of Safe Passage Project, a non-profit organization that provides free, full legal services to almost 900 undocumented youths each year. Prior to law school, worked as a legal assistant at Skadden Arps. Before co-founding Safe Passage, worked at The Door and Make the Road serving immigrant youth. Recently served as Co-Counsel in R.G.H. v. Sessions challenging aspects of the current administration's family separation policy. Holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Fordham Law School where he received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award.

Peter Cobb

TREASURER

Former Managing Partner and Chair of the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver Jacobson, LLP. Previous positions include serving as President of the Legal Aid Society, Chief Financial Officer of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress, and Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Fordham University. In addition, has served as Board Chair of the Correctional Association of New York. Holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School, a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the City University of New York and a B.A. from Pomona College.

Sarah T. Gillman

SECRETARY

Founded Rapid Defense Network in January 2019. From 2007-2016 was a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society and from 2017-2019 was a Supervising Attorney in the Immigration Unit. Served from 2012-2014 as an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Washington Square Legal Services where she taught and supervised students in the Immigrant and Advanced Rights Clinics. Holds a B.A. from Earlham College and a J.D. from CUNY School of Law.

Rachael N. De Chacon

Vice President at The Blackstone Group. Previously served as corporate partner in the New York office of Kirkland Ellis LLP, focusing on the formation, operation, and regulatory compliance of private equity funds and other investment vehicles. From 2016-2018, worked for Blackstone in Real Estate Legal & Compliance. Holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and a B.A. from Boston College.

Amy Drury

Investment-banking instructor with over 17 years of experience teaching management within financial institutions how to be more effective at their jobs. Specializes in accounting, valuation, financial modelling and Excel training, which all draw on her background in corporate finance. Author of academic texts, contributor to accounting and investment banking textbooks and producer of online e-learning content. Holds a B.A. in Architecture from the University of Liverpool, England.

Katy Brodsky Falco

Senior Fellow at NYU School of Law's Criminal Justice Lab. Prior to this, worked as Executive Director of Crime Lab New York, a criminal justice research organization that partners with civic and community leaders to identify, test, and help scale the programs and policies with the greatest potential to improve lives. Also served as Executive Director of Assessments and Reentry Services at the New York City Department of Correction, where she implemented national best practices and piloted the use of evidence-based assessment tools. Was Director of Advocacy and Associate General Counsel for Grameen America, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus’ non-profit microfinance organization. Also worked at Legal Aid Society as a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division, and at the International Center for Transitional Justice in Cape Town and New York.

Philip Graham

Became a partner of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in 1977 and Of Counsel in 2011. Practice involves all aspects of commercial litigation. Has a wide range of experience in and interest for community matters. In addition to supervising the pro bono work of associates at his firm, was a former member of the Civil Justice Reform Act Committee for the Southern District of New York and a Member of Advisory Group on Immigration Reform (Katzmann Committee). Holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an A.B. from Harvard University.

Georgi Natalichvili

Recently co-founded Riverhead Realty Group LLC. Has spent most of his career in the automotive industry, first in sales at Mercedes of Brooklyn and later working his way up to finance manager at Potampkin GMC. Came to the United States in 1993 and from 1997-2003 founded and ran the successful American Jewelry Design Company before transitioning to the automotive industry. Born in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, where he obtained a business degree from the State Medical University.

info@defensenetwork.org
Rapid Defense Network

11 Broadway, Suite 615

New York, NY 10004

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