Attorney fees are the compensation a client pays his attorney. Attorney fees are different from costs and expenses. Generally, an individual who hires a defense attorney will pay attorney fees (which are generally billed at an hourly rate, or a flat fee for a type of crime) and reimburse the attorney for money that has been spent on the case, for example, court document filing fees. Generally, the attorney will ask the defendant to pay an upfront retainer. This is a lump sum payment representing a portion of the total attorney fee. The hourly rate is then subtracted from the retainer amount as the work is done.