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Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

THE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS IS OPERATING REMOTELY.

Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

EXAMINATION LOCATIONS UPDATE: Applications for the July 2022 Examination are Closed

5/17/2022: At 4:30 today, May 17, 2022, Tennessee exceeded capacity for the examination and applications closed. At the time the application closed, anyone who had not submitted and/or paid the Tennessee application and fee is not eligible to sit for the exam. If you submitted an unpaid application, then your application has been withdrawn. If you did not submit the application in Synergy, then the application has been deactivated. A notice from the Board has been sent to applicants who either did not submit an application or pay the fee.

The Final Deadline for Applicants who submitted and application and paid the Tennessee fee for completion of the application and upload or receipt of all documents remains May 20, 2022. Applications for accommodations for anyone who has submitted an application and paid the fee will be open until May 20, 2022.

5/10/2022: The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order granting the Board of Law Examiners permission to close applications prior to the May 20, 2022, deadline when capacity is reached for the Nashville testing location. Capacity at the Knoxville and Memphis locations was reached last week. The Order does not affect test takers who have already submitted an application through Synergy and paid the Tennessee application fee.

Upon reaching capacity at the testing location in Nashville, applications for the July 2022 bar examination in Tennessee will close. Any application with a submitted and paid application as of the time capacity has been reached will have until May 20, 2000, in which to complete the application process. If at that time the application closes, there are more applications submitted and paid that there are available seats, those without a seat will be placed on a waitlist for the Nashville testing location. A copy of the order can be found at the end of the “Examination Locations and Schedule” page.

PLEASE NOTE THAT TO APPLY FOR ADMISSION BY EXAMINATION IN TENNESSEE, YOU MUST BE A BONA FIDE APPLICANT FOR ADMISSION TO THE TENNESSEE BAR. Courtesy seating is not permitted.

AS OF 4:00 p.m. CDT, MAY 3, 2022, THE KNOXVILLE AND MEMPHIS LOCATIONS ARE AT CAPACITY. You will have the option to select KNOX FULL – WAITLIST or MEMPHIS FULL – WAITLIST. By making this selection, you will be assigned to test in Nashville and will AUTOMATICALLY be added to the KNOXVILLE OR MEMPHIS WAITLIST. If, however, you elect to test in Nashville by choosing one of the Nashville test options, you will not be placed on a waitlist and will be testing in Nashville.

You will be notified on or before July 1 if space opens in the location for which you are wait-listed. If you have not received notice by July 1, 2022, that your exam location has changed from Nashville to your preferred location, you will be testing in Nashville.

KNOXVILLE: If you submitted your Synergy application in which you selected Knoxville (Mask Optional or Mask Preferred) and paid prior to 10:00 a.m., May 2, 2022, you will be testing at the Knoxville location. Those submitting applications after this date and time will have the option to choose the Knoxville waitlist or elect to test in Nashville and, if you choose the waitlist, will be notified if seats become available.

MEMPHIS: If you submitted your Synergy application in which you selected Memphis (Mask Optional or Mask Preferred) and paid prior to 4:00 p.m., May 3, 2022, you will be testing at the Memphis location. Those submitting applications after this date and time will have the option to choose the Memphis waitlist or elect to test in Nashville and, if you choose the waitlist, will be notified if seats become available in Memphis.

Exam Locations have been added to the website and can be found here. Please note that space is limited in Knoxville and in Memphis. More information is provided on the “Examination Locations and Schedule” page. (4/26/2022)

Grades Released for February 2022 UBE

Scores were released April 8, 2022, for the February 2022 Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee. The list of applicants passing the exam can be found here. Of the 273 examinees, 111 achieved a score of 270 or higher, a pass rate of 40.66%. Statistical information for the February 2022 UBE in Tennessee can be found here.

Amendment to Rule 7, Section 10.01(h)

By order filed March 14, 2022, the Tennessee Supreme Court has temporarily granted the Board discretion to waive the late fee imposed by Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, § 10.01(h) for registration of lawyers working remotely as in-house counsel for a Tennessee company. As stated in the Order, “the widespread use of employees working remotely has created uncertainty concerning when a lawyer has established a ‘systematic and continuous presence’ in Tennessee” under Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 8, RPC 5.5(d)(1) and Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, § 10.01(a), governing registration of in-house counsel. A lawyer approved for registration under this provision is deemed approved as if the registration had been timely filed.

Practice Pending Admission for Comity Applicants Extended

Applications for Admission without Examination (Comity) have been delayed due to the extensive amount of time the Board and staff members have had to dedicate to administering and processing the remote examinations given between October 2020 and July 2021. At this time, review of comity applications and approval by the Board are taking an average of 14 months. The Board and staff are committed to completing the pending cases and reducing the time between application submittal and Board decision.

To permit attorneys who have been affected by the delays to continue to practice pending admission as provided in Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, Sec. 10.07, the Supreme Court filed an order on November 9, 2021, modifying Rule 7, Sec. 10.07. Lawyers who submitted and paid for an application for admission by comity prior to July 1, 2021, and who have registered or subsequently register to practice under section 10.07, may continue to practice pending admission until July 1, 2022, absent a terminating event as provided in section 10.07(b).

Office Closed for Holidays

The Office of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners will be closed Thursday, December 24, and Friday, December 25, 2020 for Christmas as designated state holidays.

Additionally, the office will be closed Thursday, December 31, 2020, and Friday, January 1, 2021, for the New Year as designated state holidays.

Questions emailed to BLE.Administrator@tncourts.gov will not be answered on days the office is closed. Responses will be provided during working hours as soon as possible and in the order in which the emails are received. Most answers can be found in information included in this website, in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, or in the Board’s Policies and Procedures found under “Governing Authorities.”

SUPREME COURT ADOPTS AMENDMENTS TO RULE 7

The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted amendments to Rule 7, Tennessee Supreme Court Rules on August 6, 2020. The amendments clarify the applicable standard for character and fitness, clarify the conditions that may be imposed for conditional admission , and make corrections to the rule for uniformity and consistency. A copy of the Order can be found here. Rule 7, as amended, can be found under Governing Authorities.

UPDATED: TNBLE AGREEMENTS

On July 15, 2020 the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order canceling the in-person exam and approving the use of the remotely proctored examination (Admissions Assessment) on October 5th and 6th. The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners is pleased to announce that a reciprocity agreement has been signed with New Jersey that will permit the transfer of scores earned on the online Admissions Assessment between New Jersey and Tennessee. We will post additional states as they are added on the Covid-19 Announcements page.

Update 7/17/2020: The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners is pleased to announce that a reciprocity agreement has been signed with Kentucky that will permit the transfer of scores earned on the online Admissions Assessment between Kentucky and Tennessee.

Update 7/28/2020: The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners is pleased to announce that a reciprocity agreement has been signed with Ohio that will permit the transfer of scores earned on the online Admissions Assessment between Ohio and Tennessee.

Update 7/29/2020: The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners is pleased to announce that a reciprocity agreement has been signed with Connecticut that will permit the transfer of scores earned on the online Admissions Assessment between Connecticut and Tennessee.

SUPREME COURT ORDERS CANCELLATION OF THE FALL 2020 EXAMINATION, APPROVES ONLINE EXAMINATION

Nashville 7/13/2020 – The Tennessee Supreme Court today ordered the cancellation of the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee scheduled for September 30-October 1, 2020, citing the current trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although stringent public health and safety protocols were planned for the administration of the examination, the Court decided that the in-person Fall Examination could not be safely administered with reasonable certainty.  To mitigate delay and uncertainty, the Court ordered the Board of Law Examiners to administer an online, remotely-proctored alternative Admissions Assessment on October 5-6, 2020, that will be comprised of questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”). The Admissions Assessment will be comprised of a Multistate Performance Test item, three Multistate Essay Examination questions, and 100 Multistate Bar Examination questions.

In entering its order, the Court recognized the hardships that COVID-19 has placed upon recent law school graduates, applicants to the Tennessee bar, and administrators.  The Court also considered the interests of the applicants, the public, and the administration of justice relating to the licensing and admission of attorneys.

Applicants who pass the online bar examination will be eligible for admission in Tennessee. Although successful applicants will not earn a portable Uniform Bar Examination score, the Board of Law Examiners has entered into reciprocal agreements with District of Columbia, Maryland and Massachusetts for transfer of scores earned on the same online exam as a qualifying score for admission and is working to establish similar agreements with other jurisdictions offering the same online exam.

“Balancing the need for recent law school graduates to be afforded an opportunity to complete the licensing process with the need to protect the public by establishing that new lawyers meet the basic competency required of attorneys in Tennessee must be part of the discussion as we move forward in the midst of a pandemic that limits social interaction,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins.

“The online remote testing option using NCBE materials is a wonderful option for our applicants and offers a legitimate assessment of competency. The materials from the NCBE have been pre-tested and are of the same quality as those used for the Uniform Bar Examination,” said Bill Harbison, President of the Board of Law Examiners. “Applicants who have begun their bar preparation and study may continue on course as the same subject matter and testing materials will be used for the assessment.”

Also, the Court ordered additional modifications to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, section 11.03, extending the last day to withdraw a July 2020 application with a refund to September 1, 2020. It also modified sections 10.04 and 10.07, permitting practice under supervision or practice pending admission to continue until July 1, 2022, for July 2020 applicants.

A list of FAQs has been posted on the Board’s website here.

A copy of the order can be found here.                      

SUPREME COURT ORDERS CANCELLATION OF JULY 2020 BAR EXAMINATION

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order today canceling the July 28 -29, 2020 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee. Although stringent public health and safety protocols were planned for the administration of the July 2020 examination, the potential benefits of administering the examination do not justify the risk of assembling groups of people in limited space for a multi-day examination, when another examination will be administered in Tennessee in two months.

The Court order cited the recent increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee. Yesterday, Tennessee reported the largest single day increase in new COVID-19 cases. In the last week, all three locations for the July 2020 exam, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville, posted their highest single day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Some of the largest increases statewide have been among people aged 22 – 35, the age group of the majority of those scheduled to take the bar examination. The Nashville mayor announced today a major reversal in the plans to reopen the city.

The Tennessee Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners are acutely aware of the toll the ongoing pandemic is taking on bar examination applicants and are committed to administering the Uniform Bar Examination in 2020, while making every effort to minimize the risks associated with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All applicants for the July 2020 examination who have not been determined ineligible for the examination or who have not already transferred their application to the February 2021 examination should expect to sit for the fall examination in Tennessee, to be conducted September 30 – October 1. Applicants previously scheduled for the Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 administration of UBE will be tested on those dates, as well.

“Applicants to the Tennessee bar are afforded broad permissions to practice pending admission and can begin working immediately upon graduation, drafting documents, meeting with clients, and appearing in court. Applicants can continue to practice even if subsequent examinations are affected by the national healthcare crisis,” said Bill Harbison, President of the Board of Law Examiners.  “We understand that this has been a difficult time for recent law school graduates and the Board is committed to making the Uniform Bar Examination available to all July 2020 applicants before the end of the year, absent any new “safer at home” orders or other significant changes.” A copy of the order can be found here.   Complete COVID-19-related bar examination announcements can be found here.

Order Establishing Seating Priority for the July 2020 Examination

The Tennessee Supreme Court entered an Order today regarding administration of the July 2020 bar examination, which will go forward with reduced seating. The Court approved a new Policy of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners that establishes a protocol for determining who will sit for the July 2020 examination. The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners will administer another Uniform Bar Examination September 30 – October 1, for anyone who is not seated at the July 2020 examination. For more information, please see the COVID-19 Announcements page.