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COVID-19 Announcements

THE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS IS OPERATING REMOTELY.

Tennessee Board of Law Examiners

  • Reciprocal Jurisdictions for the online, remotely-proctored Admissions Assessment:
    • District of Columbia
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • New Jersey
    • Vermont (7.24.2020)
    • Ohio (7.28.2020)
    • Connecticut (7.29.2020)
    • New Hampshire (8.3.2020)
    • Oregon (8.6.2020)
    • Illinois (8.11.2020)

UPDATE 7/13/2020: The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order canceling the Fall 2020 Bar Examination and Approving Administration of an online, remotely-proctored Admissions Assessment. The online Admissions Assessment will consist of 1 MPT item, 3 MEE questions and 100 MBE questions, all being released by the NCBE specifically for the online test. The Admissions Assessment will be administered October 5 – 6, 2020, and will result in a score that can be used for admission in Tennessee. Additionally, the Board of Law Examiners has entered into reciprocity agreements with District of Columbia, Maryland, and Massachusetts so that scores earned on the same online assessment in those jurisdictions may be used for admission to Tennessee and scores earned on the Admissions Assessment in Tennessee can be transferred to those jurisdictions. The Board is working to establish reciprocity with other jurisdictions for portability of the Admissions Assessment score.

The Order and Press Release can be found here. On that same page is a link to the FAQs the Board has prepared regarding the online Admissions Assessment.

UPDATE 7/2/2020: The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order canceling the July 2020 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee. The Court order cites the Governor’s expanded emergency order limiting gatherings and extending the duration of other requirements, the recent increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee, as well as the updated mandate limiting gatherings in Nashville to 25 people. Although stringent public health and safety protocols have been 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 rates of infection across the country are rising rapidly.

The Tennessee Supreme Court and 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, will be transferred to the administration of the exam to be conducted September 29 – October 1 (the “Fall Exam”).
  • Applicants who were moved to the Fall Exam date because of the priorities are scheduled to be tested at the Fall Exam.
  • Applicants may transfer the July 2020 application to the February 2021 examination on or before September 1 by emailing BLE.Administrator@tncourts.gov.

Applicants who have already registered with ExamSoft for laptop testing software will be transferred automatically to the Fall Exam and will use the files downloaded for the July 2020 exam. Applicants who did not register and download the software for the July 2020 exam will have the opportunity to register and download the files for the Fall Exam.

A copy of the order can be found here. The Supreme Court and the Board remain committed to making the Uniform Bar Examination available to all July 2020 applicants before the end of the year, absent any new or expanded “safer at home” orders or other significant changes in the nature of the pandemic.

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UPDATE 5/11/2020: The Supreme Court has entered an order confirming that a Uniform Bar Examination will be administered in July 2020 in Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville. Further, the Court approved new Board Policy P-4.03, which specifies that each exam location will seat fewer applicants and establishes a protocol for determining which applicants will be seated at the July examination and which will be seated at the October examination. Tennessee will administer the Uniform Bar Examination in July and in October so that applicants who cannot take the exam in July due to space limitations may take the exam in October.

Seating priorities are:

  • First, to applicants who are 2019 or 2020 graduates of law schools located in Tennessee who will be taking the examination for the first time. If seats remain, then
  • Second, to applicants who are 2019 or 2020 graduates of law schools located in Tennessee who have taken the examination in Tennessee one time and were unsuccessful. If seats remain, then
  • Third, to re-examination applicants who are graduates of law schools located in Tennessee based on the number of times the applicant has taken the exam in Tennessee, i.e., applicants who have taken 2 times are given priority over those who have taken 3 times.
  • Applicants will be seated in priority order based on availability and the date and time the Tennessee application in Synergy was completed (submitted and paid).
  • Applicants with priority who cannot be seated in the location selected during the application process will be offered a seat at another location.
  • Applicants for the July 2020 examination who are not assigned a seat for the July 2020 administration will be given the choice to sit for the October 2020 examination or the February 2021 examination.
  • Applicants will be notified of the exam date and location by June 30, 2020.

UPDATE 4/17/2020: The Supreme Court has announced that in addition to the July Exam (July 28 – 29, 2020), the Board of Law Examiners will offer an examination on September 30 – October 1, 2020 (the “October Exam”) in Knoxville, Tennessee. A copy of the release is at the end of this page.

Key points regarding the October Exam option include:

  • Use of only the July 2020 Application: Those who wish to sit for the October exam in TN must apply using the July 2020 exam application. A separate application will not be opened for this exam. Applicants must comply with July examination deadlines and application requirements.
  • If someone has already submitted an application through Synergy, the BLE will send a letter by April 24 explaining how to elect to change from the July Exam to the October Exam.
  • Those with an application in Synergy that is in progress will be able to navigate back to select the exam location. They will also receive a letter from the BLE by next week.
  • Applicants can sit for either the July Exam or the October Exam in Tennessee but not both.
  • If the July Exam is not deployed by the NCBE or TN remains under “Safer at Home” orders, all applicants for the July Exam will be moved to the October Exam and will be given the option to move their application to the February 2021 examination rather than sit for the October Exam.
  • The October Exam will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center in the Exhibit Halls.

UPDATE 4/2/2020: The Tennessee Supreme Court has entered an order temporarily modifying certain provisions of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7. The Order extends the time to practice law pending admission for recent law school applicants or attorneys licensed in another jurisdiction who recently moved to Tennessee and apply for admission by examination. Additionally, the Court considered the effect of the potential delay of the July 2020 examination and temporarily amended Rule 7 to allow the Board to transfer applications and fees paid to the Board or to provide refunds. The Court also extended the expiration of the August 2018 and November 2018 MPRE scores.

The Court adopted these temporary changes due to ongoing concerns regarding the July 2020 bar exam in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Providing this information now gives guidance to applicants and potential applicants while preserving the issue of when or whether there will be another examination in 2020. The temporary changes affect sections 3.05, 4.07, 10.04, 10.07 and 11.03 of Rule 7. Rule 7 can be found under Governing Authorities.

At this time, the Board does not if, when or where a Fall 2020 UBE administration will be, and an application cannot be transferred to the February 2021 exam until after applications have closed for the July 2020 exam. Applicants must complete the July 2020 exam application process to be eligible to transfer applications and fees. Applications for the July 2020 exam are open. The initial deadline is May 1 and the final deadline is May 20 for applicant-provided documents and the undergraduate transcript and June 1 for the law degree verification only.

The Board will to update applicants regularly through email and by posting to this website.

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UPDATE 4/01/2020: The link for law schools to upload completed Law Degree Verification forms is now available. Law School Officials responsible for completing the forms should email ble.administrator@tncourts.gov for the link and instructions. Each LDV must be saved a separate .pdf file and named as follows: student-last-name_student-first-name_law school_LDV.pdf.

NOTE: This link will be given to law schools only, it will not be sent to applicants.

UPDATE 03/27/2020: NCBE continues to monitor the coronavirus situation closely. For NCBE updates, see: www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/. Tennessee administers the Uniform Bar Examination and is dependent upon the NCBE for test materials. In addition to monitoring state and local government orders, the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (“Board” or “TBLE”) is remaining in close contact with the NCBE regarding the July examination. Based on the latest NCBE updates, a decision on whether the NCBE will deploy materials for a July administration will be on or about Tuesday, May 5. Please continue to check here for updates.

The Board is awaiting more information from the NCBE regarding the dates of a potential Fall administration of the Uniform Bar Examination and will post updates as soon as dates are announced.

Other updates:

·        LAW DEGREE VERIFICATION: The Board recognizes that completion of hard copy Law Degree Verification (LDV) forms present challenges as we work from home and practice social distancing. To that end, the Board will institute a new process for uploading LDV forms. We anticipate that the upload site will be available by Wednesday, April 1.  Please check back here for updates on availability and instructions for how to obtain the link.

o      A revised LDV form has been created and is found at the end of this page and as well as the First Time Applicant page. This form is for the July 2020 exam only.

o     The revised form includes a process for students/applicants
to utilize an online notary service for the Authorization and Release or for signature under penalty of perjury. Since this is a release to permit the law school administration disclose information to the Board, it is up to the law school to determine which method of authentication is required.

o      An additional page has been added to be uploaded
with the original two page form. The new page, “Authentication & Contact Information” (page 4), will provide the Board will contact information and authentication that the form is being uploaded by a law school administrator or dean. Even if you already have a hard copy release and LDV form in the
original format, please complete page 4 and add it to any uploads to we can contact you if any questions
arise. If you have already mailed an LDV for a student, you do not need to resubmit or provide the additional page 4 form. 

o      The extended deadline to June 1 for the LDV forms
only remains in place so that administrators and professors have sufficient time to compile grades while working remotely.

·       UNDERGRADUATE TRANSCRIPTS: The Board will accept electronic transcripts emailed to ble.administrator@tncourts.gov
directly from the undergraduate school or clearinghouse. The TBLE will not accept any transcript that was issued to a student, whether in hard copy or by email.

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UPDATE 2 3/20/2020: Update on the July 2020 Bar Examination
– The impact the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will have on the July 2020 Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee is not certain at this time. We are in close contact with the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”) and other
jurisdictions as we all consider possible options for the July exam in the
event that bar admission office closures or prohibitions against large
gatherings remain in effect. Current application deadlines remain in effect
as noted below.
Please continue to monitor this website for updated
information. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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UPDATE 1 3/20/2020: We have been notified that the phone and voice
mail issue has been resolved. If you are trying to call and receive a message
that the voice mailbox is full please email BLE.administrator@tncourts.gov
to let us know.

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ORIGINAL POST 3/15/2020: The office staff of the Board of Law
Examiners will be working remotely at least through March 20, 2020. You may reach us by email to BLE.ADMINISTRATOR@TNCOURTS.GOV or call us at 615-741-3234. The office will be closed to in-person visitors
until further notice.

Application deadlines for the July examination are unchanged. The
Initial Deadline is May 1, 2020, and the final deadline for applications,
payment of fees and all required documents is May 20, 2020. Applications can be filed and paid online and documents uploaded into the Synergy Application Portal (synergy.tnble.com).