How To Apply
Instructions for First-Time Application for Admission by Examination
Applications for Admission by Examination are accepted only between the following dates:
October 1 and December 20 for the February examination; and
March 1 and May 20 for the July examination.
Please note that if you try to submit an exam application outside these time frames, neither the application nor the fees are transferable or refundable.
The process for submitting an application for admission by examination is completed online at synergy.tnble.com. You must finalize and submit your Synergy application before you mail payment. We cannot accept payment without a Synergy application. THE TBLE WILL NOT ACCEPT HARD COPIES OF APPLICATIONS.
Applicants to the Bar of Tennessee are responsible for ensuring that all documents are submitted to the Board of Law Examiners in a timely manner. Applicants may be notified by the Board that there is a deficiency in the file; however, such notification is a courtesy. Failure of the Board to notify an applicant of a deficiency does not entitle the Applicant to an extension of time to submit the required documentation.
An application for admission by examination consists of the following items (all documents in .pdf format unless otherwise noted)*:
- Application for first time applicants – completed online at synergy.tnble.com
- a .pdf file of the signed and notarized NCBE application completed online and including a bar-coded application number (please note that you are required to submit your application to the NCBE at the time of application to Tennessee). Please do not scan and upload your payment information with the NCBE application.
- a current, color passport photo in .jpg file format only (see FAQs for more info)
- current resume (.pdf file only)
- full payment of fees
- three (3) letters of recommendation as outlined below
- Official Undergraduate transcript (direct mail, see below)
- Completed Law Degree Verification and Certificate of Dean of Law School form from every law school attended; disclosure form from Non-ABA approved law school, other than Tennessee law schools approved by the Board (direct mail, see below).
All of the documents listed above, including any additional documents required for those licensed in another jurisdiction*, educated at a non-accredited U.S. institution*, or educated in a foreign country*, must be received by the final deadline (May 20 for July exams; December 20 for February exams, unless a weekend or holiday and then the next business day) in order to be eligible to sit for the examination, upon Board approval.* Applicants who are admitted in other jurisdictions, educated at a non-ABA approved out-of-state law school, or have an undergraduate or law degree from a foreign country have additional requirements that must be filed prior to the deadline in order to be eligible to sit. Please refer to Rule 7, Board Policies and Procedures, and the application for information.
Expunged matters: A matter that has been expunged MUST be disclosed unless it is a matter that was resolved as a juvenile. See generally State v. Schindler, 986 S.W.2d 209 (Tenn. 1999), Wright v. Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, 277 S.W.3d 1 (Tenn. 2008).
Deadlines. Familiarize yourself with the deadlines included under the Exam Sites and Schedule tab. Please note that these deadlines are “received by” deadlines, not “postmarked by” deadlines. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Sections 3.10 and 11.02, neither the Executive Director nor the Board has the discretion to waive or extend the dates for filing applications nor may any fees be waived. It is highly recommended that you not wait until the week prior to the deadline to file your application as any deficiency found will result in a finding by the Board that you are not eligible to sit for the examination. The responsibility for ensuring timely completion of the application is on the applicant. The Board will deny an application if any item is missing, regardless of when it was requested by the applicant.
Applicable Rule. Read and familiarize yourself with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, found by clicking the link at the top of this page or by selecting “Governing Authorities” in the left column. The filing of an application indicates that you have read and understand Rule 7. Failure to adhere to the requirements of Rule 7 may be viewed as a character and fitness issue.
STEPS TO TAKE TO COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION
STEP 1: Create your NCBE Number Account. Create a secure NCBE number account by accessing www.ncbex.org and selecting “NCBE Account” in the top right corner of the page. The NCBE number will be required on all forms completed for the NCBE and the TBLE application process.
STEP 2: Complete the online NCBE application. You may begin the NCBE Application at any time within six (6) months prior to the date of the examination you plan to take; however, you may not submit it to the TBLE until the application period is open for submission. To access the NCBE Application, login to www.ncbex.org and select Character and Fitness.
Save the NCBE application: When you have completed the application form online, print your completed NCBE application. Sign and have notarized the appropriate pages as required. Make a copy of the application for your records. Scan and save as a .pdf file the original, signed and notarized application, including attachments and upload to your Synergy application. Submit one original to the NCBE with your payment either by filling in the credit card information or by paying with a check or money order. DO NOT SCAN THE PAGE WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD TO THE SAVED .PDF FILE. Upload the .pdf file to your Synergy Application.
Submitting documents only to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners or only to the NCBE does not constitute a complete application. You may be deemed ineligible to sit for the examination and your licensing will be delayed.
STEP 3: The Tennessee (Synergy) Application. Go to www.tnble.org (this website) and access Synergy by clicking on the Synergy portal at the top of the screen. Complete the new user registration if you do not already have a login and submit. You will receive an email to confirm your registration. Once you have completed the confirmation, you may log in to Synergy. From the dashboard, select Tennessee First Time Examination Application, which you will complete online. You will have a chance to review your answers before you “submit and finalize” the application. Be sure to read and answer each question fully. Failure to provide complete information may result in denial of your application. A duty of candor applies (Rule 7, Sec. 3.08).
STEP 4: Related Items. Once you have finalized the Synergy online application, return to the Dashboard and click the “details” link next to the application (looks like a magnifying glass). From that screen, you will upload the required documents listed above in .pdf format unless otherwise noted.
OTHER INFORMATION – Additional information regarding documentation requirements, laptop testing and special forms:
Letters of Recommendation. You must submit professional letters of recommendation from three (3) law professors under whom you have studied, or lawyers or judges for whom you have worked. The Board does not accept letters from the following family members: parents, grandparents, siblings or spouses. If a relative other than your parent, sibling, spouse or grandparent is providing the recommendation, the relationship must be disclosed in the letter. Letters must be on letterhead, signed and dated within 6 months of the exam, describe the professional relationship between the author and the applicant, and state whether or not the author would recommend the applicant to the bar. Letters may be sent to the applicant and uploaded to Synergy (in .pdf format) or mailed directly to the Board by the author and received by the deadline for filing applications for the application to be complete and for the applicant to be eligible to sit. Letters sent directly to the Board are considered confidential and will not be visible to applicants through Synergy. A late recommendation letter will result in denial of eligibility to sit for the exam. Neither the Board nor the staff of the TBLE has the discretion or authority to waive or extend the dates for filing applications.
Undergraduate Transcript. Order and have sent directly to the TBLE an official transcript from the school where you received your undergraduate degree. DO NOT send a transcript from every school you attended. Electronic or PDF transcripts are not accepted. Transcripts must be sent directly to the Board and received by the deadline for filing applications for the application to be complete and for the applicant to be eligible to sit. An undergraduate transcript received after the deadline will result in denial of eligibility to sit for the exam. Neither the Board nor the staff of the TBLE has the discretion or authority to waive or extend the dates for filing applications.
Law Degree Verification. Print the Law Degree Verification and Dean Certification Instructions and forms for each law school attended, even if you did not complete your degree at the school (New Forms below for use beginning 3/1/2016). For each law school, complete and have the Authorization and Release form notarized and send ALL pages to your law school Dean for completion, including Instructions. Forms must be sent directly to the Board by your law school and must be received by the deadline for filing applications for the application to be complete and for the applicant to be eligible to sit. If you have not completed your law school studies at the time of the deadline, the law school must complete the form with the anticipated graduation date and submit by the deadline then submit the Late Confirmation of Degree Form on or before the Friday preceding the bar examination. A law degree verification form received after the deadline will result in denial of eligibility to sit for the exam. Neither the Board nor the staff of the TBLE has the discretion or authority to waive or extend the dates for filing applications. (For verification of an LL.M. for foreign educated applicants, see below).
BOTH THE UNDERGRADUATE TRANSCRIPT AND THE LAW DEGREE VERIFICATION FORM MUST BE SENT TO THE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS DIRECTLY FROM THE SCHOOL OR CLEARINGHOUSE AND MUST CONTAIN THE SCHOOL SEAL.
Other Bar Admissions. If you have ever been admitted in another jurisdiction you must submit, on or before the deadline, a certificate of good standing, dated within the the last 6 months, from the highest court of each state in which you are or have been licensed. A certificate from the state bar is not sufficient. If you become licensed in another jurisdiction while your Tennessee application is pending you must amend your application and provide a certificate of good standing.
Laptop Testing. A few weeks after the application deadline, all applicants will receive an email from ExamSoft, the exam Software provider, regarding the laptop registration procedure. Included in the email will be details regarding the application deadline. If you wish to handwrite the exam, do not respond to the email and do not download the Software. By registering and downloading the Software, you agree that you have read, understood and accepted the General Information, Instructions and Release of Liability in "Laptop Testing" here.
Requests for Non-Standard Testing Accommodations
If you require non-standard testing (NST) accommodations, please complete the Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodations application online and provide the required NST forms. See complete instructions by returning to "Admission by Exam" and clicking the link for Non-Standard. Non-standard testing applications require information from your treating professional and, in most cases, professional diagnostic test results. Please familiarize yourself with the Board’s Non-Standard Testing Accommodations Policy that can be found under the link for Non-Standard Testing and under Governing Authorities. A Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation must be submitted if you have a medical need for medication, food, water, glucose testing supplies, equipment or other non-standard item at the exam table.
Foreign Educated Applicants
Educational Equivalency Requirement: If your legal education was received in a country other than the United States, you must furnish information demonstrating that your post-secondary education was substantially equivalent to the requirements of Sections 2.01 and 2.02 of Rule 7 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. This means that your foreign education degree(s) must be substantially equivalent to a Bachelor's degree or higher and a Juris Doctorate degree, but this does not necessarily mean that two separate foreign-earned degrees are required. Proof of equivalence to both degrees must be shown. All foreign educated applicants will be required to submit a comprehensive, course-by-course evaluation of educational equivalency from either International Evaluation Services of the Center for Applied Research, Evaluation and Education, Inc. (www.iescaree.com - request the comprehensive report) or International Education Research Foundation (www.ierf.org - request the detail report with course level identification), in lieu of foreign transcripts. This is a requirement for all foreign educated applicants, unless you were approved to sit for the July 2015 or February 2016 examination using credentials approved for either of those examinations. See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7 § 7.01(a).
CERTIFICATE OF DEAN: The U.S. law school at which you earned your LL.M. must submit a completed Certification of Dean of Legal Studies U.S. on or before the deadline for filing applications. You must complete the first page of the form, have it notarized and send it to your U.S. law school. The form is available below.
U.S. EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS: In order to be eligible to sit for the bar examination, you must have been awarded an LL.M. for Practice of Law in the United States in addition to your foreign education. This is required even if you previously sat for or were approved to sit for the examination with less than an LL.M. degree. See Rule 7 §7.01(b).
Licensed to practice in a country other than the United States
If you are licensed to practice law in a country other than the United States, you must furnish:
- A certified copy of the record or license of the court which admitted you to practice in such country.
- At least three (3) letters from attorneys or judges in such country certifying that you are in good standing at that bar, or were in good standing at that bar when you left that country.
Tennessee does not accept MBE scores transferred from previous Tennessee exams or from another jurisdiction, whether or not concurrent. All applicants sit for the entire examination.
AMENDMENTS TO APPLICATION: If you have previously submitted an application for admission to the Tennessee bar, regardless of type of application, and you have supplemental, new or different information to report, please print and complete the application amendment form (see files below). Once completed, the form should be saved as a .pdf file and uploaded to your Synergy application under 'Applicant Additional Documentation'. A change to your personal address and phone number are done in Synergy (https://synergy.tnble.com) in your system profile (My Profile Page). To change an email address only, please send an email to BLE.firstname.lastname@example.org requesting the change. Please note that if your NCBE application is still pending you are required to amend your application with the NCBE as well. Visit http://www.ncbex.org for amendment requirements.