A Manhattan surrogate has slashed to less than $16 million a $44 million contingency fee sought by Graubard Miller for its work on behalf of the widow of New York real estate magnate Sylvan Lawrence, finding that, in retrospect, the firm’s contract was unconscionable.

However, in Estate of Sylvan Lawrence, 175/82, Surrogate Nora S. Anderson rejected a bid by the estate of Alice Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence’s widow, to recoup $18 million in fees already paid to Graubard by Mrs. Lawrence under an earlier contract. Mrs. Lawrence died in 2008, and her three children now control her estate.

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