Tennessee Supreme Court Approves Board of Law Examiners Policies and Procedures Related to Uniform Bar Examination and Deadlines

The Tennessee Supreme Court on September 7, 2018, approved Policies and Procedures and a new Fee Schedule proposed by the Board of Law Examiners. The restated Board Policies and Procedures include new and revised Policies governing the application process, deadlines and implementation of the Uniform Bar Examination (“UBE”) and admission by transferred UBE score.

UBE-related Changes

Policy P-3.05 is new and outlines the application process for Admission by Transferred UBE Score. Applications for Admission by Transferred UBE Score will be accepted beginning January 2, 2019. Foreign-educated applicants may apply for admission by transferred UBE score if they otherwise meet the education requirements of Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 7, Sec. 7.01. (See Policy P-3.05(b)(8). The fee for Admission by Transferred UBE Score is $625. Instructions for “How to Apply” can be found temporarily in the News Article titled, UBE Transfer Score - How to Apply, on this page. 

Policy P-4.07 leaves unchanged the minimum or “cut” score of 270 out of 400 required to pass the bar examination and applies that score to transferred UBE admissions, as well. As with all UBE jurisdictions, the weight assigned to the Multistate Bar Examination is 50%; the two Multistate Performance Tests, 20%; and the six Multistate Essay Examination questions, 30%. Lastly, exam and transferred UBE score applicants must have achieved at least an 82 on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination to be eligible for licensing and admission.

Policy P-5.01 has been amended to include applicants who are licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction seeking admission by transferred UBE score as eligible to register for practice pending admission. A transitional provision is included for attorneys who have earned a UBE score that meets the Tennessee minimum score and who move to Tennessee prior to the time Applications for Admission by Transferred UBE Score are accepted (January 2, 2019). Attorneys may register for practice pending admission prior to submitting an application and submit the Application for Admission on or before January 9, 2019. (See Policy P-5.01(e)).

Policy P-6.02 reflects changes to Rule 7, Sec. 6.02, adopted with the UBE amendments. Previously, all applicants by examination were required to appear for an in-person Character and Fitness interview. With the adoption of the UBE, the requirement was changed to a mandatory in-person interview for any applicant for a license (Exam or UBE Transfer Applicant) who is not licensed or not in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction. The Board has the discretion to refer attorney-applicants for an in-person interview as well. The revisions to Policy P-6.02 provide the process for selecting the county in which the interview will take place if an interview is required by the Board.

Policy P-7.01 is amended to include foreign-educated applicants seeking admission by transferred UBE score. The balance of the Policy provides the documentation required to support eligibility for admission.

Policy P-10.04 is new and, as in Policy P-5.01, establishes the registration requirements for Examination or UBE Transfer Applicants who are not licensed in another jurisdiction to practice under supervision. Again, a transitional provision is included for UBE Transfer Applicants to register and apply on or before January 9, 2019.

Other Policy Changes

Policy P-1.02 is new. Applicants who are approved for licensing and admission are issued a Certificate of Eligibility and have two years to complete the process of registering with the Board of Professional Responsibility and taking the oath of admission. Exam scores are valid for three years. Policy P-1.02 allows an applicant who has not completed the process in two years but who has unexpired exam scores to submit a Re-Activation Application with other documents for a one-time extension of the Certificate of Eligibility.

Policy P-2.02 specifies the way in which a law degree is evidenced in the application for UBE Transfer Applicants and for Article V Applicants (Comity). UBE Transfer Applicants must submit a Law Degree Verification in the form provided by the Board; Comity Applicants must provide an Official Transcript.

Policy P-3.01 defines a complete application for admission by examination or re-examination. The requirements have been revised to eliminate the need for three professional letters of recommendation and to clarify other filing requirements for foreign-educated applicants and for applicants who did not graduate from an accredited undergraduate institution. Subparagraph (c) is added to list the expiration date of the various application documents.

Policy P-3.03 is new and establishes revised filing deadlines for examination applications. The new policy includes an “Initial Deadline” of May 1 for the July examination and December 1 for the February examination that is an optional, but highly recommended, deadline to meet. Applicants who submit the Tennessee Online (Synergy) Application and pay the filing fee on or before the Initial Deadline will receive notice of deficiencies in the application file, including missing or non-conforming documents. Applicants who do not submit the Synergy Application and pay the filing fee until after the Initial Deadline will not be provided notice of deficiencies. Consequently, applicants who delay initiating the application run the risk of not completing the application and being ineligible to sit for the examination. The Final Deadline is a “received by” deadline, not a post-mark deadline and all documents, even those required to be sent from a third party, must be received or uploaded in the correct format, by the Final Deadline or the applicant will be ineligible to sit for the examination. The Board does not have discretion to waive or extend deadlines so notice of deficiencies in the application file is helpful to applicants in meeting the Final Deadline.

The complete Statement of Policies and Procedures can be found on the Board of Law Examiners website at http://www.tnble.org/tn-supreme-court-rule-7 as an attached file at the end of the page. Please direct any questions to BLE.Administrator@tncourts.gov.