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Posted in

July

2020

THE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS IS OPERATING REMOTELY.

Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

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.