Comity admission is governed by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Article V. An applicant must have been engaged in the active practice of law as defined in Rule 7 for five of the seven years immediately preceding the application and must meet the education and character and fitness requirements of Rule 7.
- If your law school education was completed at a non-ABA accredited, non-Tennessee approved school or in a foreign country, you are not eligible for admission without examination.
The process for submitting an Application for Admission Without Examination (Comity) to the Tennessee Bar is completed exclusively online. For a complete application, you must provide two applications – the NCBE Character and Fitness Application (the “NCBE application”) and the Tennessee Application for Comity Applicants (the “Tennessee application”). You must finalize your NCBE application before you begin your Tennessee application to begin the background investigation (see Step 3, below). There are separate fees for the NCBE application and the Tennessee application. Hard copies of applications are not accepted. Applications received in the mail will be returned for online submission and will not be recorded as filed.
Board consideration of Applications for Admission by Comity take up to 14 months to complete, sometimes longer. If you wish to practice in Tennessee while your application is pending, you MUST register to practice pending admission and can find information here. See: Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, RPC 5.5 regarding unauthorized practice of law and exceptions.
Please follow the steps below to apply for Admission by Comity in Tennessee:
STEP 1: Read and familiarize yourself with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 and the Board Policies and Procedures, found under Governing Authorities. The full version of Rule 7 and the Board Policies are at the bottom of the Governing Authorities page.
STEP 2: Go to NCBE website and create a secure NCBE number account. The NCBE number is required on all forms completed for the NCBE and the TBLE application process.
STEP 3: Login to your secure NCBE account and complete the NCBE application for character and fitness investigation. You may begin the NCBE Application at any time within six (6) months prior to the date of your Tennessee Application. When you have completed the NCBE Application form online, save your completed NCBE Application and all attachments to a .pdf file. It is highly recommended that you keep a copy of the application for your records. Submit the materials and payment to the NCBE as required in the NCBE instructions. The saved .pdf file will be uploaded to your Tennessee Application; see Steps 4 and 5, below.
IMPORTANT NOTES FOR STEP 3:
- A detailed checklist, with mailing instructions, is available after finalizing your online NCBE Application. Your NCBE Application will not be complete until you have complied with all of the requirements included in the checklist sent by the NCBE, including receipt by the NCBE of any required mailings.
- Note: The NCBE Application and all attachments must be submitted to the NCBE according the the NCBE instructions and the saved .pdf uploaded to your Tennessee Application as provided in Step 5, below.
- Failure to complete the background investigation process and to upload the NCBE Application to your Tennessee Application will delay the review of your application by the Board.
- FAILURE TO PROVIDE COMPLETE INFORMATION MAY RESULT IN DENIAL OF YOUR APPLICATION. A DUTY OF CANDOR APPLIES (Rule 7, Sec. 6.04).
- Expunged matters: A matter that has been expunged MUST be disclosed unless it is a matter that was resolved as a juvenile. See generally State v. Schindler, 986 S.W.2d 209 (Tenn. 1999), Wright v. Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, 277 S.W.3d 1 (Tenn. 2008).
- Important Reminder: The NCBE and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners are separate entities. The NCBE conducts background investigations for the TBLE. Submitting documents only to the TBLE or only to the NCBE will not meet the filing requirements and will not constitute a complete application. You MUST submit your NCBE Application to the NCBE and upload a .pdf of your complete NCBE Application to your Tennessee Application (see Steps 4 and 5).
STEP 4: Navigate to Synergy, the online Tennessee application portal by clicking here. Complete the new user registration and submit. You will receive an email to confirm your registration. Once you have completed the confirmation, log in to Synergy. From the dashboard select “Application for Comity Applicants,” which is the Tennessee Application. Complete the Tennessee Application and then click Finish. You will be able to review your application. Once you have reviewed your application, click on “submit and finalize” (bottom left button).
STEP 5: Once your Tennessee Application has been finalized, return to the dashboard and click the “details” button next to the application. From there you will upload the following documents (for more information regarding each item, see Board Policy P-5.01):
- the .pdf file of the NCBE Application completed online including all attachments uploaded or required to be uploaded to the NCBE (created in Step 3, above);
- completed Affidavit of Past Practice (form available at bottom of this page);
- certificates of admission and good standing from the highest court of each state in which your are licensed, dated no earlier than 6 months from the date of the application, which can be uploaded (.pdf format) or mailed directly to our office;*
- your current resume (.pdf format only);
- an official transcript from the school at which you received your bachelor’s degree or higher, which can be uploaded (.pdf format) or mailed directly to our office (see additional information below including petition requirement for undergraduate degree from non-SACS approved* schools); and
- an official transcript from the law school from which you received your J.D. degree, which can be uploaded (.pdf format) or mailed directly to our office.
* Applicants who are admitted in other jurisdictions, educated at an unaccredited undergraduate college, have an undergraduate degree from a foreign country, or who were admitted on diploma privilege and have not ever taken the bar examination, have additional requirements that must be filed with the application prior to Board review. Please refer to Rule 7, Board Policies and Procedures, the application, and directions following Step 6 for information.
STEP 6: The fee for the Tennessee Comity Application may be paid online by credit card after completing the Tennessee Application. A convenience fee will be charged as a separate transaction; the amount depends on the type of card used. Fees for admission by comity are not transferable or refundable. Fees paid by check or money order must be payable to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners and mailed to our office at TBLE, 511 Union Street, Suite 525, Nashville, TN 37219, or paid in person by check, money order, or cash.
OTHER REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION: TRANSCRIPTS, FORMS AND ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENT
Other Bar Admissions: With your Tennessee Application, you must submit certification from the highest court of each state in which you are or have been licensed, dated within the 6 months preceding your application, indicating (1) that you are admitted to the highest court of the jurisdiction and (2) the standing of your licensed in the jurisdiction (good, inactive, suspended, etc). This may be a single or multiple certificates, depending on the certification process of each state. A certificate from the state bar is not sufficient unless the State Bar is the agency charged with maintaining the official admission and disciplinary records. If you become licensed in another jurisdiction while your Comity application is pending, you must amend your Tennessee Application and provide certification of admission to the highest court and good standing (see Amendments, below).
Applicants educated at an unaccredited undergraduate college or who have an undergraduate degree from a foreign country: If you received your undergraduate education from a college that was not on the approved list of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (SACS) or equivalent regional accrediting association, or you received your undergraduate education at a school located in a foreign country, you must include with your application a request for waiver with evidence that your undergraduate education is substantially equivalent to an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited school; see Rule 7, Sec. 2.01(c) and Policy P-2.01. Applicants who received their legal education in a foreign country and who did not receive a J.D. from an ABA-accredited or Tennessee-approved law school are not eligible for admission without examination (Rule 7, Section 7.01).
Applicants who were admitted and licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction under a diploma privilege: If you have been admitted by diploma privilege and have never been admitted in any U.S. jurisdiction by bar examination, you must submit a petition as set forth in Rule 7, Sec. 5.01(b).
Undergraduate and Law Degree Transcripts. Order an official transcript from the school where you received your bachelor’s degree(s) or higher and your law degree. You may upload an official electronic transcript or have the transcript sent directly to the TBLE. DO NOT send a transcript from every school you attended, only from those undergraduate, graduate and law schools where a degree was conferred.
AMENDMENTS TO APPLICATION: While your Comity application is pending, if you have supplemental, new or different information to report, you must print and complete the application amendment form (see files below). Once completed, the form should be saved as a .pdf file and uploaded to your Tennessee Application under ‘Applicant Additional Documentation’. Please note that if your NCBE application is still pending, you are required to amend your application with the NCBE as well. Visit the NCBE website for amendment requirements. Changes to your personal address and phone number are done in Synergy in your system profile (My Profile Page). To change an email address only, please send an email to BLE.email@example.com requesting the change.
APPLICATION EXPIRATION: A comity application expires and closes upon the earlier of:
- admission and issuance of a license;
- written notice to the Board of withdrawal of the application by the applicant;
- denial of a license under Rule 7, Section 9.05;
- thirty days after the entry of the order denying the comity application for failure to meet the character and fitness standard in Rule 7, Section 6.01;
- thirty days after the entry of the order denying the comity application for failure to meet comity eligibility requirements; or
- six months after the last communication from the Board sent after completion of the background investigation, which remains unanswered by the applicant.
See Rule 7, Section 5.03 for more information on application expiration and how to withdraw an application.