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A 40 percent contingent-fee agreement between New York law firm Graubard Miller and Alice Lawrence, the 83-year-old widow of real estate developer Sylvan Lawrence, was not unconscionable on its face, an appellate court said Tuesday, even though the agreement was executed in the final months of a decades-long estate litigation in which the firm had already received $18 million in hourly fees and three partners had further requested and received $5 million in “gifts.”

In Lawrence v. Graubard Miller et al., a 4-1 majority of the New York Appellate Division, 1st Department denied Ms. Lawrence’s motion to dismiss Graubard Miller’s petition to compel payment of the contingent fee and said further proceedings would be needed to determine the propriety of the arrangement.

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