Small law

Appeals Court Rules Estate of Alice Lawrence Must Pay Law Firm Fees
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Graubard Miller, Law Firm News, Alice Lawrence

Summary: The law firm of Graubard Miller has won its case against the estate of Alice Lawrence for the payment of $44 million in fees stemming from a case back in 2005. 

The New York Court of Appeals rejected claims made by a Manhattan real estate mogul’s widow that she was subjected to her lawyers’ “Svengali-like influence,” according to a report from Reuters.


To read more stories involving the New York Court of Appeals, click here.

The court ruled that her estate has to pay the law firm $44 million in fees for a couple of months’ work.

The ruling was issued on Tuesday against Alice Lawrence, the widow of real estate mogul Sylvan Lawrence.

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The court said that the widow knew the risks she was taking when switching from an hourly-fee arrangement to a contingency agreement.

The court also shot down her estate’s bid to force three lawyers from Graubard Miller to return the $5 million in gifts given to them by the widow.

A lower court in New York ordered the lawyers to return the gifts and called the fees “unconscionable.” That court reduced the fees to $3 million.

Lawrence was represented by Graubard Miller from 1983 to 2005, which is when she won a $111 million batter with her brother-in-law regarding properties owned by her husband.

To read more stories about New York real estate, click here.

Lawrence was sued by the firm in 2005 when she refused to pay the fees. She passed away in 2008 and her children then claimed that the law firm manipulated the woman into signing a 40-percent contingency agreement five months prior to the case coming to an end.

“She was a competent and shrewd woman who made a business judgment that was reasonable at the time, but which turned out in retrospect to be disadvantageous,” Judge Susan Read wrote.

The lawyer for Graubard, Mark Zauderer, said, “The possibility of a large fee has to be in the mix to give lawyers the incentive to take difficult cases.”

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Image credit: Graubard Miller



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