Time Conversion Chart for Lawyers & Law Students

One of the more confusing things about being a lawyer—and especially being the client of a lawyer—is the everchanging landscape of time. Time for lawyers represents a commitment, something solid. In other words, something you need to soften up for some wiggle room later. Thus, when various times are thrown around—at court, in the office, among colleagues—there is a hidden meaning behind the nomenclature. Now may not mean now, next week may actually mean something quite different. Confused? Here’s a quick guide and time conversion chart to help you understand.

Unit of Time
Measurement/Conversion
Immediately (if used by opposing counsel)No independent meaning
Immediately (if used by the court)48 hours, +/- 3 hours
1 hour (for lawyers)1.6 hours (1.0 billable, 0.6 unbillable)
1 hour (for law students)50 minutes
jiffy2 hours
about+/- 5 (of any unit of measurement)
on or about+/- 8 days
approximately+/- 2 if hours; +/- 8 if days
9:00 am11:25 am
start promptly atadd 2.3 hours to stated time; see also, approximately
forthwith4 days
fortnight14 days
next week17 days
early next week16 days, +/- 1 day
megasecond11.6 days
take under advisement1 year, +/- 3 months
four-hour final exam27 minutes*
two-day bar exam486 hours*

*has not been verified yet by independent sources

Gregory Luce is the editor of Bitter Lawyer. He creates stuff and writes various columns, including Legal Crap My Kids Ask Me, Ask a Futurist, and Postcards from Lawyers.

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