Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 Adopted by the Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court has amended Rule 7, which governs licensing of attorneys in Tennessee, effecitve March 29, 2019. These changes follow other modifications that were made to the rule over the past several years, including the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam and Tennessee Law Course, temporary licensing for the attorney-spouse of a military servicemember and the requirements for admission of lawyers educated outside of the United States. The most recent changes reflect a holistic review of the rule with key changes to practice pending admission, in-house counsel registration by non-Tennessee lawyers, and the rules governing law students working under supervision of faculty.

As part of the holistic review, the entire rule was reformatted to a consistent numbering convention for ease in citation. Further, emphasis was placed on ensuring that each section was properly place in the corresponding articles in the rule based on the type of admission.

For example, section 5.01(g) regarding practice pending admission for applicants licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction seeking admission in Tennessee has been moved from Article V in Rule 7 related to admission without examination to Article X, Special or Limited License and is new section 10.07. The holistic review also resulted in moving the “Duty of Candor” and “False Information” provisions from Article III, Application for Admission by Examination Score, to Article VI, Character and Fitness Investigation, sections 6.04 and 6.05 as the provisions apply to all applicants.

Several significant changes were made to section 10.01, In-House Counsel. First, the Court now permits foreign lawyers to register as In-House Counsel if they meet the requirements delineated in section 10.01. A foreign lawyer serving as In-House Counsel has 180 days from enactment of the amendments to Rule 7 to register as In-House Counsel. There is also a new late fee for all attorneys not licensed in Tennessee who fail to register as In-House Counsel within 180 days. Revisions to section 10.01 clarify that a lawyer who is eligible for registration under section 10.01 but who chooses to apply for admission by examination, transferred UBE score or without examination, must register to practice pending admission under section 10.07. The protection against unauthorized practice of law for a lawyer’s service before timely registration (within 180 days) does not apply for admission under other provisions of Rule 7. See Rule 7, § 10.01(i).

Sections 10.02 and 10.03 focused regarding approval of law school clinics, attorneys in the clinics and law student practice, were re-written in coordination with the clinical directors from the six Tennessee law schools. The revisions bring the rule in line with current practices in experiential learning programs while keeping the focus on helping those who cannot otherwise afford an attorney and on the educational nature of the programs.

You can find the Order with the Rule attached as an Appendix at the end of this page.