On October 31, 2023, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order amending Supreme Court Rules 6 and 7. The Order and Appendix with the changes can be found on the Tennessee Courts website here. The following is a summary of the substantive changes:
Paragraph (2): The requirements for a personal statement and a statement by two sponsors. The paragraph has been rearranged and the numbering revised. New paragraph (A) describes what constitutes and application for admission by affidavit; paragraph (B) directs an applicant to appear to take the oath of admission before a judicial official listed in paragraph 4; paragraph (C) clarifies the process for submitting the completed and signed application for admission by affidavit to the Clerk and includes a time limit for submission of the documents.
Paragraph (5) has been amended to include a process for virtual admission, making permanent the process implemented during the pandemic.
Section 1.07(f) has been modified to permit UBE score transfer, comity, or spouse of a military service member applicants to access the Tennessee Law Course upon receipt of the completed character and fitness investigation rather that after the Board approves the applicant for admission.
Section 2.01(a) has been amended to remove the phrase “before taking his or her first bar examination” as the requirement is included in paragraph (b).
Section 2.02(e) has been amended to incorporate the current ABA requirements for distance learning.
Section 3.03: THE DEADLINES HAVE CHANGED FOR FILING AN APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION BY BAR EXAMINATION.
- Sec. 3.03(a) creates two deadlines, the Application Deadline and the Final Deadline.
- The Application Deadline is May 1 for a July exam and December 1 for a February exam.
- The correct Tennessee application and the filing fee must be received by the Application Deadline. A copy of the NCBE background investigation application must uploaded to the Tennessee application by the Application Deadline.
- If the application is not submitted, the fee not paid, and/or the NCBE application not uploaded on or before the Application Deadline, the applicant will not be permitted to sit for the exam.
- No new applications will be accepted after the Application Deadline, even if started prior to the Application Deadline.
- The Final Deadline is May 20 for a July exam and December 20 for a February
- To meet the Final Deadline, all supporting documents required to complete the application, including completion of all steps necessary to initiate the background investigation, must be completed, uploaded, or received on or before the Final Deadline.
- If a required document is not received by the Final Deadline or all steps have not been completed for the background investigation to begin, the applicant will not be permitted to sit for the exam.
Paragraph (b) modifies the method for measuring time in practice for an applicant whose UBE score has expired but was not earned more than five years ago. The computation of the time in practice requirement of 3 years is measured from the date upon which the application is submitted or the date the UBE score expired, whichever is later. However, in all cases, the applicant must demonstrate sufficient time in practice prior to the final expiration of the score after 5 years.
Paragraph (c) adds as an application filing requirement that the applicant for admission by transferred UBE score must request transfer of the score from the NCBE. This was moved from Paragraph (a), as it is a requirement for the application, not for eligibility.
Section 4.04, which listed the topics tested on the Tennessee Bar Exam, was deleted as Tennessee now utilizes the NCBE MPT, MEE, and MBE test materials. Content and Scope outlines are on the NCBE website.
Section 4.08, Voluntary Withdrawal from the Examination, is new. The section details when an applicant may withdraw from the exam and what conduct during the exam constitutes a voluntary withdrawal.
Section 5.01(c) modifies the definition of active practice of law to eliminate “full-time.” The list of categories in paragraph (c)(1) has been expanded to more closely align with the list in the ABA Model Rule. Paragraph (c)(3) has been modified to include a sentence moved from paragraph (2) regarding practice pending admission.
Section 7.01 has been amended to include multiple paths for applicants who received their legal education outside the United States to meet the educational requirements. In addition to substantially equivalent education, an applicant can demonstrate eligibility with a foreign law degree and an LL. M., or a foreign law degree, a license to practice law in at least one U.S. or foreign jurisdiction, and time in practice. Each option can be documented and verified and does not require the exercise of discretion by the Board. The requirements for the Foreign-Education Report has been moved to new paragraph (c).
Section 10.01 has been revised to clarify when the registration process is complete for purpose of timeliness of the registration application and to align the filing requirements with similar requirements for other types of admission. The changes make clear that the registration is specific to the employer, registration must be completed within 180 days of establishing a systematic and continuous presence, and the steps the lawyer must take to complete registration.
Section 10.03 has been modified to clarify that law student practice is not an “admission” to the bar of Tennessee but a permission to practice under supervision. Further, the section has been revised to make clear that the supervising attorney must be an active member of the bar. The change requiring the supervising attorney to be in active status has also been added to Section 10.04.
Section 12.11 has been amended to permit release of performance test and essay question answers to applicants who are unsuccessful on the examination.