The U.S. Supreme Court had good and bad news for lawyers Wednesday in a pair of decisions, one on attorney fee awards, and the other on lawyers’ liability for errors in debt-collection cases.

In Perdue v. Kenny A (pdf), much anticipated by civil rights and public interest groups that depend on fee-shifting statutes when they win, the Court said judges may award fee enhancements above the “lodestar” amount to lawyers for superior performance — but only in rare and well-documented circumstances. The 5-4 majority rejected the fee enhancement in the case before it and sent it back to lower courts with the possibility that, with enough justification, the additional award could be revived.

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