How To Apply
Instructions for Applications for Re-Examination
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have applied previously for the examination as a first-time applicant but did not sit for the examination, DO NOT SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR RE-EXAMINATION. You must submit an application for First Time Examination.
Applications for Re-Examination are accepted only during the following periods:
All documents listed in Board Policy P-3.01(a)(2) – (10) must be received by the TBLE in the proper format on or before the final deadline in order to be eligible to sit for the examination. Details regarding the documents required for a complete application are listed in the step-by-step instructions below.
As an applicant to the Bar of Tennessee, you are responsible for ensuring that all documents are submitted to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (TBLE) in a timely manner, even if the documents are coming from a third party. You will be notified at least once by the TBLE that there is a deficiency in your file if you submit your application and pay the filing fee on or before the Initial Deadline. If you begin your application or pay the application filing fee after the Initial Deadline, you will not receive notification of any deficiencies. Documents must be received on or before the final deadline or you will not be eligible to sit for the bar examination. Notice of a deficiency does not entitle the Applicant to an extension of time to submit the required documentation. Neither the application nor the fees are transferable or refundable if you fail to complete your application prior to the deadline.
The process for submitting an application re-examination is completed online at synergy.tnble.com. You must finalize and submit your Synergy application before you make payment, which can be made online by credit card at the end of the process. We cannot accept payment without a Synergy application. Hard copies of applications are not accepted. Applications for Re-Examination are governed by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Sections 3.01 and 3.03 and Board Policy P-3.01 and P-3.03.
STEPS TO TAKE TO COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION
Read and familiarize yourself with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 and the Board Policies and Procedures, found under "TN Supreme Court Rule 7" in the bar at the top of this page or under Governing Authorities in the list to the left or by clicking the link. The full version of Rule 7 and the Board Policies are at the bottom of the Governing Authorities page.
Determine what documents you need to submit. An application admission by examination consists of the following items, many of which will already be on file for a re-exam applicant:
a. Application for re-examination applicants – completed online; see Step 4 (REQUIRED EACH EXAM);
b. a .pdf file of the NCBE background investigation (character and fitness) application completed online and any required attachments. If your most recent NCBE background investigation application was completed 2 years or more before the date of the examination, you must submit a supplemental NCBE application with the NCBE for an updated background investigation and upload a .pdf of the supplemental application to your Synergy Application file; see Step 3. (REQUIRED EVERY 2 YEARS);
c. a .pdf file of your current resume (REQUIRED EACH EXAM);
d. a current, color passport photo in .jpg file format only (REQUIRED EACH EXAM);
e. If you last applied more than 5 years ago, verify with the TBLE that an undergraduate transcript and a Law Degree Verification form are on file; if not, you must order an Official Undergraduate transcript and submit a Law Degree Verification form to your law school. Both documents must be mailed from the school or transcript service directly to the TBLE office (see the address at bottom of this page) and received on or before the filing deadline; see below for more information;
f. if you are licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction*, certificates of admission and of good standing for each jurisdiction in which you have been admitted (.pdf format only) – some states use one form for both but certification of admission to the highest court and of current good standing before the Bar are both required for admission (see below for more information)(REQUIRED WHENEVER THERE IS A CHANGE IN STATUS, THEN REQUIRED AS AMENDMENT UPON CHANGE);
g. if you received your legal education outside the United States*, District of Columbia or U.S. territories, an equivalency evaluation and/or completed Certification of Dean of Legal Studies in the U.S. form and Affidavit of Practice in Foreign Country, and letters from three attorneys in each country in which you are licensed who can verify that you are licensed and attest to your practice in that country; see Rule 7, Section 7.01 and Policy P-3.05 and P-7.01, all found here (AFFIDAVIT OF PRACTICE IN FOREIGN COUNTRY REQUIRED EACH EXAM; LETTERS ATTESTING TO YOUR PRACTICE MUST BE UPDATED EVERY TWO YEARS);
h. if you attended a law school outside of Tennessee* that was not an ABA-accredited law school at the time of your graduation, proof of licensing in the jurisdiction in which the law school was located and an Affidavit of Past Practice (AFFIDAVIT OF PAST PRACTICE REQUIRED EACH EXAM); and
i. full payment of fees (REQUIRED EACH EXAM).
CALCULATION OF TWO YEAR PERIOD for supplemental NCBE background investigation (b) or letters attesting to law practice (g): The two year time period is counted from exam date to exam date; for example,an NCBE application or letter submitted for the July 2017 exam is good for July 2017, Feb 2018, July 2018 and Feb 2019; but must be updated for a July 2019 application.
If your NCBE Investigation is 2 or more years old, go to www.ncbex.org and complete the online NCBE supplemental character and fitness application for background investigation. 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. When you have completed the NCBE application form on-line, save the application and all attachments as a .pdf file. Submit the materials and payment to the NCBE as required in the NCBE instructions
Note: The NCBE application and all attachments must be submitted to the NCBE and a .pdf uploaded to your Synergy Application on or before the Final Deadline. You will upload the saved .pdf file to your Synergy Application as provided in Step 5, below. A detailed checklist, with mailing instructions, is available after finalizing your online application. Your NCBE application will not be complete until you have complied with all of the requirements included in the checklist sent by the NCBE, including receipt by the NCBE of any required mailings.
FAILURE TO PROVIDE COMPLETE INFORMATION MAY RESULT IN DENIAL OF YOUR APPLICATION. A DUTY OF CANDOR APPLIES (Rule 7, Sec. 6.04).
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).
Important Note: The NCBE and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners are separate entities. The NCBE conducts background investigations for the TBLE. Submitting documents only to the TBLE or only to the NCBE will not meet the filing requirements and will not constitute a complete application. You MUST submit your application to the NCBE and upload a .pdf of your complete NCBE application to your Tennessee Synergy Application (see Step 4). You may be deemed ineligible to sit for the exam and your licensing will be delayed if you submit the application only to the NCBE or only to the TBLE.
A link to the Tennessee application portal can be found in the upper right corner of this page. Click on the Synergy tab and log in to Synergy from the website or by clicking here. From the dashboard select “Application for Re-Examination Applicants.” 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. 6.04).
Note: Applicants for admission by examination who are not licensed and/or are not in good standing in another jurisdiction must appear for an in person interview every two years, which will be scheduled up to six weeks after the bar examination. Applicants who are licensed and in good standing in another jurisdiction may, in the discretion of the Board, be required to appear for an in person interview.
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 (See STEP 2, above) in .pdf format unless otherwise noted. Certain third party forms must be sent directly from the third party to the TBLE. ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE FINAL DEADLINE OR YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO SIT FOR THE EXAMINATION.
Submit the $375 application filing fee (ONLINE by credit card only after the Synergy application is finalized and submitted OR by CHECK OR MONEY ORDER payable to the TN Board of Law Examiners; do not mail cash) to the Board of Law Examiners, 511 Union Street, Suite 525, Nashville, TN 37219. Please be sure to clearly mark your full name and NCBE number on the check or money order. Credit card service fees, sometimes called convenience fees, will be paid directly to the vendor in a separate transaction.
Deadlines and Eligibility to Sit for the Examination. All of the documents listed in Step 2 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. 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 and the Board of Law Examiners Office closes at 4:30 p.m. Items from third-parties must be sent directly from the third party and must arrive prior to the time the office closes to meet the deadline. 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. Applicants who submit the Synergy Online Application and pay the application filing fee on or before the Initial Deadline will receive at least one notice of missing documents/deficiencies. Applicants who do not submit an application and pay the fee on or before the Initial Deadline will not receive any notice of deficiencies. You may begin your application at any time during the application period and upload documents as you receive them prior to the deadline. 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.
OTHER INFORMATION: TRANSCRIPTS, FORMS AND ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
IF YOU LAST APPLIED MORE THAN FIVE YEARS AGO:
a. Undergraduate Transcript. Verify by email to the TBLE whether an undergraduate transcript is in your application file. If not, order an official transcript from the school(s) where you received your bachelor’s and/or master’s degree(s) and have the transcript sent directly to the TBLE. DO NOT send a transcript from every school you attended, only from those where a degree was conferred. Electronic or PDF transcripts are not accepted. Transcripts must be sent from the school or transcript service directly to the Board for the application to be complete. An undergraduate transcript received after the deadline will result in denial of eligibility to sit for the exam, regardless of when the transcript was ordered. Neither the Board nor the staff of the TBLE has the discretion or authority to waive or extend the dates for filing applications.
b. Law Degree Verification. Verify by email to the TBLE whether a Law Degree Verification is in your application file for each law school you attended, whether or not a degree was awarded. If not, print the Law Degree Verification and Dean Certification Instructions and forms (found at the end of this page) for each law school attended, even if you did not complete your degree at the school (see forms below). 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 application deadline for the application to be complete and for you to be eligible to sit for the 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).
c. BOTH THE UNDERGRADUATE TRANSCRIPT AND THE LAW DEGREE VERIFICATION FORM MUST BE SENT TO THE TENNESSEE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS DIRECTLY FROM THE SCHOOL OR CLEARINGHOUSE AND MUST CONTAIN THE SCHOOL SEAL.
*Applicants who are admitted in other jurisdictions, educated at a non-ABA approved out-of-state law school or an unaccredited undergraduate college, 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, the application, and directions below for information.
Waiver of Non-Accredited Undergraduate Education including Foreign Undergraduate Degree (U.S. J.D.)
If you received your undergraduate education from a college that was not on the approved list of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (SACS) or equivalent regional accrediting association, or you received your undergraduate education at a school located in a foreign country, you must include with your application a request for waiver with evidence that your undergraduate education is substantially equivalent to an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited school, see Rule 7, Sec. 2.01(c). For applicants who received their legal education in a foreign country and who did not receive a J.D. from an ABA-accredited or Tennessee-approved law school, see Foreign-Educated Applicants, below.
Other Bar Admissions. Every two years or after a status change, certification dated within the last 6 months from the highest court of each state in which you are or have been licensed must be submitted, indicating (1) that you are admitted to the highest court of the jurisdiction and (2) the standing of your licensed in the jurisdiction (good, inactive, suspended, etc). This may be a single or multiple certificates, depending on the certification process of each state. A certificate from the state bar is not sufficient unless the State Bar is the agency charged with maintaining the official admission and disciplinary records. If you become licensed in another jurisdiction while your Tennessee application is pending, you must amend your application and provide certification of admission to the highest court and good standing.
If your legal education was received in a country other than the United States, you may qualify for admission on transferred UBE score if you meet the requirements for eligibility. There are two paths to qualify:
1. Foreign Education is "Substantially Equivalent" to a U.S. Bachelor's Degree or higher and a J.D. Degree: You must satisfy the Board that your undergraduate education and legal education were 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. To substantiate your education, applicants must submit a comprehensive evaluation that includes a course-by-course evaluation, determination of equivalency, plus authentication of transcripts (the “Foreign-Education Report”) from a Credential Evaluation Service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (www.naces.org). The Foreign-Education Report must be sent directly to the Board of Law Examiners by the company performing the evaluation. See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7 § 7.01(a). NOTE: If you are licensed in a foreign jurisdiction, you must comply with the provisions in paragraph 3 below.
2. Foreign Education is not "Substantially Equivalent" but have a Law Degree from a Foreign Jurisdiction: You do not have education that is substantially equivalent to the requirements of Sections 2.01 and 2.02 of Rule 7 but have completed a course of study in and graduated from an accredited law school in a foreign jurisdiction, and you have an LL.M. Degree that meets the requirements and is certified as provided in sub-paragraph a, below, and you are licensed in a foreign jurisdiction and have practiced law in that jurisdiction for five of the eight years prior to your application, as explained further in sub-paragraph b, below.
a. LL.M. Degree: You must have been awarded, by a law school fully accredited by the ABA or a Tennessee law school approved by the Board under section 2.03 of Rule 7, an LL.M. Degree that meets the following requirements:
i. LL.M. Requirements: The LL.M. program:
* must prepare students for admission to the Bar and for effective and responsible participation in the United States legal profession;
* must teach the courses for the LL.M. Degree in English; and
* must be taught and attended by applicant on site at the ABA- accredited or Tennessee-approved law school in the United States or its territories; distance learning of any kind is not permitted.
ii. Certification of LL.M.: In order to document that the LL.M. Degree meets these requirements, you must provide the Legal Studies in U.S. for Foreign-Educated LL.M. Verifcation, available below, to your law school and such form must be submitted by your law school directly to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. You must complete the first page of the form, have it notarized and send it to your U.S. law school.
b. Admission in foreign jurisdiction: You must be admitted to practice in a foreign jurisdiction and in good standing at the bar of the foreign jurisdiction and you must have been engaged in the active practice of law in the foreign jurisdiction, as defined in section 5.01(c) of Rule 7, for at least five of the eight years prior to applying for admission to the Tennessee bar. See paragraph 3, below, for documentation required to certify that you are licensed in a foreign jurisdiction. Include with your application the Affidavit of Foreign Practice, available below, to document your time in practice.
3. Documentation of License to practice in a jurisdiction other than in the United States: For any foreign-educated applicant who is licensed to practice law in a jurisdiction other than one in the United States, you must furnish with your application the following:
a. A certified copy of the record or license of the court which admitted you to practice in such country;
b. 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; and
c. Documents provided to the Board of Law Examiners must be translated to English by a certified translator with a copy of the original text provided.
MPRE Requirements: Applicants seeking admission by exam score (bar exam in Tennessee or transferred UBE score) must achieve a score of 82 or higher within 2 years of successfully completing the Tennessee bar examination in order to be eligible for admission. An MPRE score is valid for admission if it was earned within two years of successful completion of the bar examination or UBE score transfer application date, except as provided below. For example, an MPRE score of 82 or higher from the August 2018 MPRE administration will be valid through the July 2020 bar examination administration.
- Applicants Licensed in Another Jurisdiction: Applicants who are licensed, active and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction and who are using an expired MPRE score pursuant to Rule 7, Section 4.07(d) must provide proof of an MPRE score of 82 or higher.
- Re-examination Applicants: MPRE scores of 75 or higher will be accepted until the MPRE score is no longer valid, provided the applicant meets all of the following requirements:
- the applicant is not licensed in another jurisdiction; and
- the applicant first sat for a Tennessee bar examination prior to the July 2018 bar examination; and
- the applicant is applying for re-examination no later than the July 2019 exam.
- After an MPRE score expires for a re-examination applicant who meets all of the requirements above, the applicant must achieve an MPRE score of 82 or higher to be eligible for admission.
Applicants who were successful on a prior Tennessee Bar Examination but who are not licensed prior to the July 2018 examination: An MPRE score of 75 or higher will be accepted for applicants who were successful on the Tennessee Bar Examination prior to the July 2018 examination who have not completed the required steps for licensing and admission until such time as the bar examination scores expire. If an applicant is not licensed prior to expiration of examination scores, the minimum MPRE score required at the time of re-examination will be required for licensing.
See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7 § 4.07 and Board Policy and Procedures P-4.07(d)(1)-(4) for additional information. For Information Regarding MPRE Test Dates, Sites, Fees, visit http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpre/.
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. The Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation is in addition to the requirements for the Application for Admission by Examination and the same deadline applies. To see complete instructions for NST, click here.
Non-standard testing applications require a comprehensive report 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. Requests for Non-Standard Testing must be submitted each exam with all documentation; comprehensive medical reports are removed after each exam to protect privacy. A Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation must be submitted if you have a medical need for medication, food, water, frequest restroom breaks, glucose testing supplies, equipment or other non-standard items at the exam table.
A few weeks after the application deadline, all applicants will receive an email from ExamSoft, the exam Software provider, regarding the laptop testing registration procedure. Included in the email will be details regarding the deadline for registering to use your laptop for the essay testing portion of the exam. 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 or click the link to Laptop Testing in the navigation tabs to the left. If you fail to register and download the software, you will be handwriting the examination.
SPECIAL NOTES FOR ALL APPLICANTS:
NO TRANSFERRED MBE SCORES: 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 and only scores earned in a single administration will be considered.
SCORE EXPIRATIONS: Exam scores are valid for admission for three years from the date of grade release. You must complete all requirements for admission within that time or your scores expire.
SUPERVISED PRACTICE AND PRACTICE PENDING ADMISSION: For information on practice prior to admission pursuant to Rule 7, Sections 10.04 or 10.07, click here.
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, save the form as a .pdf file and upload to your Synergy application under 'Applicant Additional Documentation'. You may change your personal address and phone number in Synergy in your system profile (My Profile Page). To change your email address, please email BLE.email@example.com 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 www.ncbex.orgfor amendment requirements.