For the latest information about COVID-19 and the impact on the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee, as well as information about deadlines and delivery methods for documentation, click HERE.
- If you applied previously for the examination as a first-time applicant but did not sit for the examination, DO NOT SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR RE-EXAMINATION. You must submit an application for First Time Examination.
- IF YOU LAST APPLIED FOR EXAMINATION IN TENNESSEE MORE THAN THREE YEARS AGO: Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Sec. 3.04(a)(8) provides that an application expires three years after the last submitted application. Use the Application for First-time Applicants if your application has expired.
AN APPLICATION FOR EXAMINATION IS AN APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR OF TENNESSEE. Applications for Re-Examination are accepted only during the following periods:
|JULY EXAM||FEBRUARY EXAM|
|Applications Open||March 1||October 1|
|Initial Deadline||May 1||December 1|
|Final Deadline||May 20||December 20|
** If a deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or State of Tennessee holiday, the deadline is the following Monday or business day. For examination test dates and locations in Tennessee, click here.
See Steps for completing the application, below. All documents listed in Policy P-3.01(b)(1) – (13) must be received by the TBLE in the proper format on or before the final deadline in order to be eligible to sit for the examination. Some of these documents must be filed with each application; others must be updated every two years; and some are only filed with the first-time application. Details regarding the documents required for a complete application are listed in the step-by-step instructions below.
As an applicant to the Bar of Tennessee, you are responsible for ensuring that all documents are submitted to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (TBLE) in a timely manner, even if the documents are coming from a third party. If you submit your application and pay the filing fee on or before the Initial Deadline, you will be notified at least once by the TBLE that there is a deficiency in your file. If you begin your application or pay the application filing fee after the Initial Deadline, you will not receive notification of any deficiencies. Documents must be received on or before the final deadline or you will not be eligible to sit for the bar examination. Notice of a deficiency does not entitle the Applicant to an extension of time to submit the required documentation. Neither the application nor the fees are transferable or refundable if you fail to complete your application prior to the deadline.
To be eligible to sit for the examination in Tennessee, you must provide two applications – the NCBE Character and Fitness Application (the “NCBE application”) found at www.ncbex.org and the Tennessee application for the current administration of the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee, found at synergy.tnble.com (the “Tennessee application”). Your NCBE application is valid for two years but you must update your application with an amendment (instructions at the end of this page) if there are any changes to your answers. If your NCBE application is two or more years old, you must finalize your supplemental NCBE application before you begin your Tennessee application. You may pay your Tennessee application fee online by credit card after you have finalized and submitted your Tennessee application; there is a separate fee for the supplemental NCBE application. You may also pay by cash, money order or check. The TBLE cannot accept payment without a Synergy application. Hard copies of applications are not accepted. Tennessee Applications for Admission by Examination are governed by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Sections 3.01 and 3.03 and Board Policy P-3.01 and P-3.03. Additional Instructions can be found in Steps 3 – 5, below.
STEPS TO TAKE TO COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION
STEP 1: Read and familiarize yourself with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 and Board Policies and Procedures found under Governing Authorities. Throughout the pages of this website, reference will be made to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 as “Rule 7” and to Board Policies and Procedures as “Policy P-[###].”
STEP 2: Determine what documents you need to submit. An application admission by examination consists of the following items; please note which must be filed each exam or periodically for a re-exam applicant:
- Application for re-examination applicants – completed online; see Step 4 (REQUIRED EACH EXAM);
- The NCBE background investigation (character and fitness) application completed online and any required attachments saved in a .pdf file an uploaded to the Tennessee Application. If your most recent NCBE background investigation application was completed 2 years or more before the date of the examination, you must submit a supplemental NCBE application with the NCBE for an updated background investigation and upload a .pdf of the supplemental application to your Tennessee application; see Steps 3 and 5. (REQUIRED EVERY 2 YEARS);
- Your current resume in .pdf format; other formats are not permitted and may result in a determination that you are not eligible to sit for the exam (REQUIRED EACH EXAM);
- A current, color passport photo in .jpg file format only; see Policy P-3.01(c) and FAQs for requirements (REQUIRED EACH EXAM);
- If you are licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction*, certificates of admission and of good standing for each jurisdiction in which you have been admitted (.pdf format or hard copy, received by the TBLE on or before the deadline) – some states use one form for both but certification of admission to the highest court and of current good standing before the Bar are both required for admission (see below for more information) (REQUIRED WHENEVER THERE IS A CHANGE IN STATUS WITH AN AMENDMENT FORM FILED AS WELL);
- If you received your legal education outside the United States, District of Columbia or U.S. territories*, an equivalency evaluation and/or completed Certification of Dean of Legal Studies in the U.S. form and Affidavit of Practice in Foreign Country, and letters from three attorneys in each country in which you are licensed who can verify that you are licensed and attest to your practice in that country; see below and see also Rule 7, Section 7.01 and Policy P-3.05 and P-7.01, all found here (AFFIDAVIT OF PRACTICE IN FOREIGN COUNTRY REQUIRED EACH EXAM; LETTERS ATTESTING TO YOUR PRACTICE MUST BE UPDATED EVERY TWO YEARS – all in .pdf format only, with translations, as required);
- If you attended a law school outside of Tennessee* that was not an ABA-accredited law school at the time of your graduation, proof of licensing in the jurisdiction in which the law school was located and Legal Studies in United States form (LEGAL STUDIES IN UNITED STATES FORM REQUIRED EACH EXAM); and
- full payment of fees (REQUIRED EACH EXAM).
STEP 3: If your NCBE application has expired, go to www.ncbex.org and complete the appropriate online NCBE character and fitness application for background investigation. You may begin the NCBE Character and Fitness Application at any time within six (6) months prior to the date of the examination you plan to take; however, you may not submit it to the TBLE until the application period is open for submission. When you have completed the NCBE application form on-line, save the application and all attachments as a .pdf file. Submit the materials and payment to the NCBE as required in the NCBE instructions.
CALCULATION OF TWO YEAR PERIOD for supplemental NCBE background investigation (2) or letters attesting to law practice (6): The two year time period is counted from exam date to exam date. For example, an NCBE application or letter submitted for the July 2018 exam is good for July 2018, Feb 2019, July 2019 and Feb 2020; but must be updated for a July 2020 application.
IMPORTANT NOTES FOR STEP 3:
- The NCBE application and all attachments must be submitted to the NCBE and a .pdf of the application with attachments uploaded to your Synergy Application on or before the Final Deadline. You will upload the saved .pdf file to your Synergy Application as provided in Step 5, below. 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.
- For Applicants who last applied more than three years ago: You must start again as a First Time Applicant, but in your NCBE application, be sure to list previous dates you applied in Tennessee under “Prior Applications” and answer completely the related question in the Tennessee application, as well. See Rule 7, Sec. 3.04 for when previous applications and scores expire.
- 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 Note: 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 application to the NCBE and upload a .pdf of your complete NCBE application to your Tennessee Synergy Application (see Step 4). You may be deemed ineligible to sit for the exam and your licensing will be delayed if you submit the application only to the NCBE or only to the TBLE.
STEP 4: The Tennessee application can be accessed by clicking here for a link to Synergy (synergy.tnble.com). From the dashboard select “Application for Re-Examination Applicants.” You will have a chance to review your answers before you “submit and finalize” the application. Be sure to read and answer each question fully. Failure to provide complete information may result in denial of your application. A duty of candor applies (Rule 7, Sec. 6.04).
- Interview Location: As part of the Tennessee application, you will be asked to select the county in which you wish to appear for your in-person interview. Applicants for admission by examination who are not licensed and/or are not in good standing in another jurisdiction must appear for an in person interview which will be scheduled up to six weeks after the bar examination. Applicants who are licensed and in good standing in another jurisdiction may, in the discretion of the Board, be required to appear for an in person interview. All applicants MUST select an interview location.
STEP 5: Once you have finalized the Synergy online application, return to the Dashboard and click the “details” link next to the application (looks like a magnifying glass). From that screen, you will upload the required documents (See STEP 2, above) in the appropriate format (.pdf/.jpg, as noted in STEP 2). Certain third party forms must be sent directly from the third party to the TBLE as noted above. ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE FINAL DEADLINE OR YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO SIT FOR THE EXAMINATION.
IMPORTANT REMINDERS FOR STEPS 3 – 5: THE NCBE AND TBLE APPLICATIONS
- NCBE AND TENNESSEE SYNERGY APPLICATIONS – BOTH ARE REQUIRED: The NCBE and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners are separate entities. The NCBE conducts background investigations for the TBLE based on the character and fitness application. To be eligible for the examination, you must submit the Tennessee Application through Synergy and, if your prior NCBE application has expired, upload a .pdf of the finalized NCBE application that has been submitted to the NCBE with fees paid to both the NCBE and 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 as provided in STEP 5, if your prior NCBE application has expired. You may be deemed ineligible to sit for the exam and your licensing will be delayed if you submit the application only to the NCBE or only to the TBLE.
STEP 6: Submit the $375 application filing fee after the Synergy application is finalized and submitted (ONLINE by credit card only OR by CHECK OR MONEY ORDER payable to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners; do not mail cash) to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, 511 Union Street, Suite 525, Nashville, TN 37219. Please be sure to clearly mark your full name and NCBE number on the check or money order. Credit card service fees, sometimes called convenience fees, will be paid directly to the vendor in a separate credit card transaction at the same time as the filing fee is paid.
DEADLINES AND ELIGIBILITY TO SIT FOR THE EXAMINATION:
- DEADLINE: All of the documents listed in STEP 2, including any additional documents required for those licensed in another jurisdiction*, educated at a non-accredited U.S. institution*, or educated in a foreign country*, must be received by the final deadline (May 20 for July exams; December 20 for February exams, unless a weekend or holiday and then the next business day) in order to be eligible to sit for the examination and upon Board approval. Familiarize yourself with the deadlines included under the Exam Sites and Schedule tab. Please note that these deadlines are “received by” deadlines, not “postmarked by” deadlines and the Board of Law Examiners Office is open from 8:00 until 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, other than recognized state holidays. Items from third-parties must be sent to the TBLE directly from the third party and must arrive prior to the time the office closes to meet the deadline.
- NOTICE OF DEFICIENCY FROM THE BOARD: Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, Sections 3.10 and 11.02, neither the Executive Director nor the Board has the discretion to waive or extend the dates for filing applications nor may any fees be waived. Applicants who submit the Tennessee Application and pay the application filing fee on or before the Initial Deadline will receive at least one notice of missing documents/deficiencies. Applicants who do not submit an application and pay the fee on or before the Initial Deadline will not receive any notice of deficiencies. You may begin your application at any time during the application period and upload documents as you receive them prior to the deadline. The responsibility for ensuring timely completion of the application is on the applicant. The Board will deny an application if any item is missing, regardless of when it was requested by the applicant.
* Applicants who are admitted in other jurisdictions, educated at a non-ABA approved out-of-state law school or an unaccredited undergraduate college, or have an undergraduate or law degree from a foreign country have additional requirements that must be filed prior to the deadline in order to be eligible to sit. Please refer to Rule 7, Board Policies and Procedures, the application, and directions below for information.
OTHER INFORMATION: WAIVERS, FORMS AND ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Waiver of Non-Accredited Undergraduate Education including Foreign Undergraduate Degree (U.S. J.D.): If you received your undergraduate education from a college or university 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 and earned a J.D. in the United States from an ABA-accredited or Tennessee-approved law school , 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. For 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, see Foreign-Educated Applicants, below. For applicants who did not receive a J.D. from an ABA-accredited or Tennessee-approved law school, see Non-ABA Accredited Law School Graduates, below.
Graduates of Non-ABA-accredited or Non-Tennessee-approved law schools: If you received your legal education at a law school that was not ABA-accredited or located in the state of Tennessee and approved by the TBLE, you may be eligible for admission in Tennessee by examination or transferred UBE score. Your legal education must be based on in-person attendance, you must be awarded a J.D. Degree, you must have passed the bar examination in the state in which your law school is located, and you must be licensed and have been engaged in the active practice of law for three of the five years immediately preceding the date of your application. You must submit documentation regarding the legal education you received and the Legal Studies in the United States form (see forms below). For additional information, see Rule 7, Sec. 2.02(d).
Other Bar Admissions. Every two years or after a status change, you must submit, on or before the deadline, certification dated within the last 6 months from the highest court of each state in which you are or have been licensed, 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 Tennessee application is pending, you must amend your application and provide certification of admission to the highest court and good standing.
Foreign-Educated Applicants: Eligibility is determined each exam period for foreign-educated applicants who are eligible based on education, an LL.M. and foreign admission and practice.
- Applicants who have been approved to sit for the Tennessee or UBE beginning with the July 2015 examination based on education that is Substantially Equivalent (Rule 7, Sec. 7.01(a)) are not required to submit a new educational equivalency evaluation for subsequent examinations as such applicant previously provided proof of substantially equivalent education to the Board.
- An applicant whose legal education was found not to be “substantially equivalent” but who has a law degree from a foreign jurisdiction may be eligible to sit for the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee if the applicant:
- completed a course of study in and graduated from an accredited law school in a foreign jurisdiction, and
- earned an LL.M. Degree that meets the requirements of Rule 7, Sec. 7.01, and
- is licensed in a foreign jurisdiction, and
- has practiced law in the foreign jurisdiction where licensed for five of the eight years prior to the application date, as further explained below.
- See all requirements here.
DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL APPLICANTS ADMITTED IN A JURISDICTION OTHER THAN IN THE UNITED STATES: For any applicant, whether or not educated outside the United States, who is licensed to practice law in a jurisdiction other than in the United States, you must furnish with your application the following:
- A certified copy of the record or license of the court which admitted you to practice in such country;
- At least three (3) letters from attorneys or judges in such country certifying that you are in good standing at that bar, or were in good standing at that bar when you left that country; and
- Documents provided to the Board of Law Examiners must be translated to English by a certified translator with a copy of the original text provided.
MPRE Requirements: Applicants seeking admission by examination score (bar examination in Tennessee or transferred UBE score) must achieve a score of 82 or higher to be eligible for admission. To be valid, the MPRE score must have been earned within two years of successful completion of the bar examination in Tennessee or the date the UBE score being transferred to Tennessee was earned, except as provided below. (If the score has expired, the applicant must take the MPRE again.) For example, an MPRE score of 82 or higher from the August 2018 MPRE administration will be valid through the July 2020 bar examination administration.
- MPRE Scores for Applicants Licensed in Another Jurisdiction: Applicants who are licensed, active and in good standing in another U.S. jurisdiction and who are using an expired MPRE score pursuant to Rule 7, Section 4.07(d) must provide proof of an MPRE score of 82 or higher.
- For more information on MPRE Scores, please see Rule 7, Sec. 4.07(d) and Policy P-4.07.
Requests for Non-Standard Testing Accommodations: Familiarize yourself with the Board’s Non-Standard Testing Accommodations Policy. The Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation is in addition to the requirements for the Application for Admission by Examination. The Request is found in Synergy and the same deadline applies for the Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation and required forms:
- Non-standard testing applications require a comprehensive report from your treating professional and, in most cases, professional diagnostic test results.
- A Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation must be submitted each exam with all documentation to show current limitations; comprehensive medical reports are removed after each exam to protect privacy.
- A Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodation must be submitted if you have a medical need for medication, food, water, frequent restroom breaks, glucose testing supplies, equipment or other non-standard items at the exam table.
- To see complete instructions for NST, click here.
Laptop Testing: A few weeks after the application deadline, all applicants will receive an email from ExamSoft, the laptop testing software provider, regarding the laptop testing registration procedure. Included in the email will be details regarding the deadline for registering to use your laptop for the essay testing portion of the exam. If you wish to hand-write the exam, do not respond to the email and do not download the Software. By registering and downloading the Software, you agree that you have read, understood and accepted the General Information, Instructions and Release of Liability in “Laptop Testing” here. If you fail to register and download the software, you will be handwriting the examination.
SPECIAL NOTES FOR ALL APPLICANTS:
NO TRANSFERRED MBE SCORES: Tennessee does not accept MBE scores transferred from previous Tennessee exams or from another jurisdiction, whether or not concurrent. All applicants sit for the entire examination and only scores earned in a single administration will be considered.
SCORE EXPIRATIONS: Exam scores are valid for admission for three years from the date of grade release. You must complete all requirements for admission within that time or your scores expire.
SUPERVISED PRACTICE AND PRACTICE PENDING ADMISSION: For information on practice prior to admission pursuant to Rule 7, Sections 10.04 or 10.07, click here.
AMENDMENTS TO APPLICATION: You are under a continuing obligation to notify the TBLE of any changes to any of the information you provided in your application, including updating the TBLE if any of your answers to any of the questions in the NCBE Application have changed in any way. If you have supplemental, new or different information to report, please print and complete the application amendment form (see files below). Once completed, save the form as a .pdf file and upload to your Synergy application under ‘Applicant Additional Documentation’. You may change your personal address and phone number in Synergy in your system profile (My Profile Page). To change your email address, please request the change by sending an email to: BLE.email@example.com. Please note that if your NCBE application is still pending you are required to amend your application with the NCBE as well. Visit www.ncbex.org for amendment requirements.