A retainer agreement that awarded a lawyer up to one-half of his client’s late husband’s contested $400,000 estate has been held unenforceable by a Manhattan judge.

So long as solo practitioner Joseph Mann was able to secure $200,000 for his client, Anne Salant, the retainer agreement would have awarded him the estate’s remaining $200,000, minus the amount of the settlement he negotiated with Ms. Salant’s sister-in-law, Alice Simmons, who claimed she was entitled to her late-brother’s property.

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