Once your application (with or without exam score) has been approved and you are eligible for admission and licensing, there are still several steps you must take prior to beginning the practice of law in Tennessee. Deadlines for completing the process licensing and admission process are noted below. Please read all of the information provided as it outlines the process for taking the Oath of Admission and receiving your license.
LICENSE REGISTRATION AND OATH OF ADMISSION – In order to obtain your license and be authorized to practice law in Tennessee, you must:
- Register with the Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) and pay the fees associated with your registration;
- Receive your Certificate of Eligibility from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (BLE); and
- Take the Oath of Admission as prescribed in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6.
Please carefully read the required steps below, which are time sensitive and require your immediate attention and diligence upon receipt of your approval for licensing and admission:
STEP 1: Within 5 business days receipt of the letter from the TBLE approving you for licensing and admission, you will receive a “Welcome Email” from the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (www.tbpr.org). Your login credentials and instructions for online registration, payment, and enrollment for the Admissions Ceremony, if one is scheduled, will be in the email. Additional instructions, How to Register at the BPR Portal, are included below.
STEP 2: Your Certificate of Eligibility will be issued by the Board of Law Examiners no more than 5 business days after you complete your registration with BPR (STEP 1) and is valid for 90 days.The Certificate of Eligibility may be extended for one time within the two years your approval is valid upon a showing of good cause. See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7 Sections 1.02 and 9.01(b). If your Certificate of Eligibility expires but your scores are still valid, you may reactivate your application as noted below.
STEP 3: In order to practice law in Tennessee, you must be approved for licensing and be admitted to practice before the Tennessee Supreme Court pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. Rule 6, copied below. You may comply with Rule 6 in one of two ways. You must choose one or the other but not both when you complete your registration with BPR (STEP 1, above):
- Upon oral motion in open court before the Tennessee Supreme Court at one of the Admission Ceremonies (available only after a bar examination grade release and included in the Welcome letter).
- The Admissions Ceremony is conducted by the Supreme Court Justices. Applicants are expected to dress appropriately for Court and to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the start time to sign-in and be seated. You may bring guests.
- Upon written application by completing and returning the Application by Affidavit for Admission in accordance with Rule 6(2) and taking the oath before one of the judicial officials in Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 6, Paragraph 5, below.
- Once you have taken the oath of admission, you are authorized to practice law in the State of Tennessee. You will receive your permanent license from the Board of Law Examiners within 30 days of taking the oath of admission.
EXPIRATION OF ELIGIBILITY – You must complete the BPR registration and have the oath of admission administered within two years from:
- the date of the notice that you were successful on the Uniform Bar Examination administered in Tennessee, or
- the date of the notice of the Board’s approval of your application for admission by transferred UBE score (§ 3.05), without examination (§ 5.01), or as spouse of a military service-member (§ 10.06).
REACTIVATION OF APPLICATION – If you have not completed the admission process within 2 years and your exam scores have not expired, you must re-activate your application. To do so, you must submit the Request to Reactivate Expired Application (form below) and a supplemental NCBE application for a supplemental background investigation. The Board will review the review the supplemental investigation report when received and, when approved, re-issue an amended Certificate of Eligibility. Scores expire three years after release of grades. If your scores have expired or if you are seeking admission by comity or as spouse of a military service-member, you must re-apply for admission.
HOW TO REGISTER AT THE BPR PORTAL
You can complete the entire registration process with the Board of Law Examiners, Board of Professional Responsibility and Appellate Court Clerk’s Office through the Board of Professional Responsibility online portal by doing the following:
- Open the “Welcome Email” you received from the BPR. Be sure to check your Spam/Junk Mail folders and accept the domain, tbpr.org, as a trusted sender.
- Go to the website for the Board of Professional: www.tbpr.org and log in with the credentials and instructions included in your Welcome Email. Once logged in, you will be able to complete your registration, register to enroll as an attorney with the Supreme Court and pay your law license registration fee.
- The fee of $250.00 is all-inclusive for all three judicial agencies ($150.00 to the Board of Law Examiners for law license, $50.00 to the Board of Professional Responsibility for registration; and $50.00 to the Appellate Court Clerk for enrollment to appear before the Tennessee Supreme Court. You may use your major credit card for payment of the fee in the attorney portal (a credit card processing fee will be charged).
- In order to participate in an Admission Ceremony, if one is available, you must:
- Complete the on-line registration process and pay the fee by the deadline listed in the online registration portal, usually no later than five (5) days prior to the date of the selected Admissions Ceremony. The list of Admission Ceremony dates and registration deadlines is included in the letter you receive from the Board of Law Examiners approving your admission. Failure to register before the deadline will mean that you will not be eligible to participate in an Admissions Ceremonies, and you must be admitted through the Admission by Affidavit process. Please note that you may not be admitted by affidavit and participate in the Admission Ceremony.
- Select to be introduced by a sponsor or by the Tennessee Bar Association President.
- If you have a sponsor who will introduce you at the ceremony, have that information available at the time you register. You may have only one sponsor introduce you. Note: If both of your parents are attorneys licensed in Tennessee and both wish to introduce you, list one parent only on your registration and then contact Lisa Perlen, Executive Director, at the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, BLE.Administrator@tncourts.gov.
- If you do not have a sponsor, the Tennessee Bar Association President will introduce you to the Court.
- You may not change this selection after you complete your registration.
- The day of the Admission Ceremony, you must sign-in at least 30 minutes prior to the Ceremony to obtain your registration packet which includes:
- your Certificate of Enrollment to appear in any court in Tennessee; and
- your Admission Line Slip that must be presented to the Appellate Court Clerk or one of his deputies as you approach the podium for your introduction to the Supreme Court.
- If you do not have your admission slip, you will not be permitted to be introduced to the Supreme Court, and you will have to seek admission through the admission by affidavit process.
- Registration for the Admission Ceremony opens one hour before the ceremony begins.
- You will be appearing before the Justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court and should dress appropriately for open court.
5. If you wish to be sworn in through the admission by affidavit process and not the Admission Ceremony, you must:
- Complete the registration process on-line and pay the fee (see Item 3, above);
- Complete the Admission by Affidavit form including two sponsor signatures. A copy of the Admission by Affidavit with instructions may be downloaded from the Tennessee Court System website at www.tncourts.gov under the Appellate Court Clerk section listed under Law License Related Forms as Admission by Affidavit (Successful Bar Applicants);
- Take the oath of admission before a judicial official authorized to administer the oath; Submit the completed Admission by Affidavit form to one of the three Appellate Court Clerk’s Offices listed on the form (addresses below).
Once you have completed registration and taken the Oath of Admission, you may begin your practice of law in Tennessee. It may take up to one month to receive your printed license.
Appellate Court Clerk Offices – for Admission by Affidavit
JIM HIVNER, CLERK
Middle Division – Lisa Marsh, Chief Deputy Clerk
Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219-1407,(615) 741-2681
Eastern Division – Joanne Newsome, Chief Deputy Clerk
Supreme Court Building, P.O. Box 444, Knoxville, TN 37901, (865) 594-6700
Western Division – Nancy Acred, Chief Deputy Clerk
Supreme Court Building, P.O. Box 909, Jackson, TN 38302-0909,(731) 423-5840
Rule 6. Admission of Attorneys.
An applicant who has been approved for licensing under Rule 7 may seek admission to the bar of this Court by either:
1. Appearing in open court and representing, through a reputable member of the bar, that he or she is a person of good moral character and that he or she has been issued a Certificate of Eligibility to be licensed to practice law under Rule 7 and the statutes of this state; or
2. Filing with the Clerk of the Supreme Court an application for admission by affidavit. Such application shall contain:
a. A personal statement by the applicant that he or she possesses all qualifications and meets all requirements for admission as set out in the preceding paragraph;
b. A statement by two sponsors (who must be members of the Bar of this Court and must personally know the applicant) endorsing the correctness of the applicant’s statement, stating that the applicant possesses all the qualifications required for admission and affirming that the applicant is of good moral and professional character. Upon timely application and for good cause shown, the Board of Law Examiners, in its discretion, may waive this requirement; and,
c. A copy of the Certificate of Eligibility issued by the Board of Law Examiners pursuant to Rule 7, Section 9.01.
3. The documents submitted by the applicant shall demonstrate that he or she possesses the necessary qualifications for admission. Upon the applicant’s taking the oath or affirmation and paying the fee therefor, the Clerk shall issue a certificate of admission. The fee for admission to the Bar of this Court shall be fixed by the Court. Applications may be filed in the offices of the Clerk at Nashville, Knoxville, or Jackson.
4. Each applicant for admission shall take the following oath: I, ___________, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. In the practice of my profession, I will conduct myself with honesty, fairness, integrity, and civility to the best of my skill and abilities, so help me God.
5. The foregoing oath of admission may be administered by one of the following judicial officials in Tennessee: (A) a Justice of the Supreme Court; (B) a Judge of the Court of Appeals; (C) a Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals; (D) a Circuit Court Judge; (E) a Chancellor; (F) a Criminal Court Judge; (G) a General Sessions Court Judge; (H) a Judge of any other inferior court established by the General Assembly pursuant to Article VI, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution; (I) the Clerk of the Appellate Courts; (J) a Chief Deputy Clerk of the Appellate Courts; or (K) the Clerk (not including deputy clerks) of any of the courts of such trial judges listed above. The oath of admission also may be administered by a justice or judge of the court of last resort in any other state.