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Wilmington Law Firm Partners With Former SEC Official In Expansion

By Audrey Elsberry, posted May 1, 2024
Patrick Mincey (left) and Stephen Bell (right) are joining forces with former SEC assistant secretary Christina Zaroulis Milnor to create an affiliated firm in Washington, D.C. (File photo)
Officials from Cranfill Sumner LLP, a nationally renowned law firm with an office in Wilmington, announced the launch of an affiliate boutique group based in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. 

Cranfill partners Patrick Mincey and Stephen Bell have partnered with Christina Zaroulis Milnor, a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to form Mincey Bell Milnor. The firm will specialize in white collar, regulatory enforcement, high-stakes civil litigation and the representation of whistleblowers before federal agencies, according to a news release from Mincey Bell Milnor. 

“One of the core objectives of our strategic plan has always been to expand our ability to handle matters for our clients where they are and where their needs are, and this move achieves those goals,” Bell told the Business Journal on Wednesday.

“D.C. is the center of the universe when it comes to white collar work in the nature of what we do,” Mincey added. 

Bell and Mincey are established white-collar attorneys based in the firm’s Wilmington office at 5535 Currituck Drive. The two lead multiple whistleblower investigations, including one representing William Wilkerson, who alleged financial wrongdoing in two cases against his former employer, Donald Trump’s company Trump Media & Technology Group. 

“Just as we have done with several high-profile cases to date, we handle white collar defense matters where our clients face criminal and sometimes civil charges, and we think differently about them,” Mincey wrote in the release. “In those cases, we conduct investigations that expose questionable and often covered up practices, and they end up becoming whistleblower cases instead.”

The two partners will split their time between the Washington, D.C., and Wilmington offices, Mincey said. 

“We'll certainly spend more time in D.C.,” Bell said. “However, I can tell you I have no plans to leave Wilmington or leave the coast. I think one of the benefits of our practice is that we can do the work we do from a town like Wilmington.”

“(Milnor) will be in D.C. full time. And that's one of the benefits of this arrangement is we frankly get the best of both worlds geographically.”

With the addition of Milnor, “a prominent government official, just exiting the SEC,” as the release states, the new boutique firm will focus on high-profile investigations of the intersection between business and government. 

Milnor worked at the SEC in various roles for more than 10 years, according to the release. She assisted the organization’s whistleblower program and gained an institutional knowledge of securities law. Milnor expects the group to take on some of the most influential whistleblower representations in “modern history,” she wrote in the release. 

The Wilmington lawyers’ meeting with Milnor was somewhat random, Bell said. While he and Mincey have been representing both whistleblowers on the prosecution side and businesses on the defense side, Milnor was developing the whistleblower program across offices in the SEC. 

“When we had the opportunity to start talking and join forces, it really was an extraordinary opportunity,” Mincey said.

The new Washington, D.C. firm will have access to Cranfill’s more than 80 attorneys across its Wilmington, Raleigh and Charlotte offices, including its satellite office in Shallotte. Associate Cameron Ervin and Of Counsel Chad Rhoades will join the Mincey Bell Milnor team in Washington, D.C. 

The team plans to grow this branch of the Cranfill practice in the future, Bell said. 

“Growth is always part of our strategy,” he said. 
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