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THE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS IS OPERATING REMOTELY.

Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

Admissions Assessment: Schedule and Notices

Testing schedules were sent to all applicants on Friday. All start and end times are Central Daylight Time. Test-takers will receive the Honor Pledge on Tuesday afternoon by email. Once you have completed the test, complete the form, sign it, and upload it to “Honor Pledge” in your Synergy application, under the Related Items tab.

The Honor Pledge and all answer, audio, and video files must be uploaded on or before 9:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 7, 2020.

February 2021 Applications for Admission – Uniform Bar Examination

The Board will announce the date Applications for Admission to Tennessee for the February 2021 Uniform Bar Examination administration will be open [1]. The initial deadline under Board Policy P-3.03 is December 1. The final application deadline is December 21, 2020. For important information regarding deadlines and application requirements, please see “Admission by Exam Score” and “Governing Authorities.”

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[1] By order of the Tennessee Supreme Court, entered September 25, 2020 and October 8, 2020.

USE OF SCRATCH PAPER ON THE OCTOBER 5 – 6, 2020, ADMISSIONS ASSESSMENT

The NCBE has informed the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners that they will permit the use of scratch paper for the MPT portion of the upcoming Admissions Assessment. Therefore, the Board has amended the policies and rules on scratch paper for the online Admissions Assessment. The General Information Manual has been updated[1] to include that examinees are permitted to use physical scratch paper and up to two non-digital pencils or pens on the MPT item, which is the first session of testing. You are not required to upload a new Acknowledgement of the General Information Manual, which prohibited the use of any paper on any portion of the exam. During the pre-test notices, there will be reminders regarding this policy that you will accept by clicking through to the next screen.

            The permission to use scratch paper and writing implements is limited to the MPT item. You must remove the scratch paper and writing implements from your testing space prior to the next testing session. Using scratch paper or any writing implement on any other portion of the Admissions Assessment (the MEE or MBE) will constitute test misconduct. Your scores will be nullified and you may be ordered to appear before the Board for a hearing regarding your character and fitness.

            During the MPT session only, you may use lined or unlined letter size paper that is otherwise blank. There is no limit on the amount of paper you may use, but the paper, pens, and/or pencils must be in your testing space when you begin testing; you cannot leave the testing space to get additional paper or writing implements.


[1] The revised Manual (TN Admissions Assessment General Information Manual – Addendum 1) has been uploaded to the Board website at here and here. Changes are as follows:

a)  Security Policy, Item 2, page 4, “Scrap paper, reference materials …” has been modified to include at the end of that bullet, “except that scratch paper is permitted for the MPT item only, as provided below;” and

b)  Assessment Procedures, Item 4, page 8, has been modified to include the updated policy on scratch paper.

ExamSoft Registration Dates and Deadlines

ExamSoft Registration open on September 1, 2020. You must register, pay the fee of $100*, download the software, take two mock exams, and upload the answers on or before September 18, 2020. If you do not complete the process by the deadline, you will not be eligible to sit for the Admissions Assessment. For more information, go to the Online Assessment page.

*If you paid the $100 fee for the JULY 2020 laptop testing software, your account has been credited with that payment and you will bypass the payment screen.

Credit Card Services Issue – Resolved

The credit card vendor for the State of Tennessee has informed all offices that credit card services are unavailable at this time. You may experience issue with credit card payments in our application program during this time. The vendor has identified the issue and is expecting to have an update within the next few hours. We post an update as soon as we have more information.

UPDATE: As of 3:00 PM CDT the vendor has notified us that the issue is still ongoing. They are working to restore functionality as soon as possible but we remain unable to accept payments at this time.

UPDATE: 8/11/2020 – We have received confirmation that the issue has been resolved.

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.