Tennessee Admission Laws

The Board of Law Examiners (Board) for the State of Tennessee administers admission to the Tennessee Bar.  In short, admission is controlled by the Supreme Court which supervises the Board.  Tennessee Supreme Court Rules 6, 7 and 21 deals with the qualifications and procedures prescribed for the admissions.  Rule 7, Section 2.01 prescribes that an applicant should have a bachelor’s degree from a college on the approved list of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, or the equivalent regional accrediting association, or any accreditation agency imposing at least substantially equivalent standards.  Applicants should be a graduate of a law school accredited by American Bar Association or the Board.  The Board has the discretion to approve any law school in Tennessee not accredited by the American Bar Association, thereby permitting its graduates to take the Tennessee Bar examination.

The Bar examination consists of essay questions and the Multistate Bar Examination.  In addition, applicants will also have to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a scaled score of at least 75.

In certain cases an applicant would be admitted to the Tennessee Bar without the examination.  Rule 7, Section 5.01 prescribes that such an applicant should meet the educational requirements imposed by Rule 7, Article II and should have been engaged in active practice of law pursuant to a license from one or more jurisdictions in the United States for five of the seven years immediately preceding such application for admission in Tennessee.  S/he should have also passed a Bar examination equivalent to that required by the Board in Tennessee.

Every attorney admitted to the Tennessee Bar should complete a minimum of twelve (12) actual hours of approved continuing legal education each calendar year.  Attorneys should also complete three (3) additional hours per year in courses dealing with ethics and professionalism

Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, Sec. 2.01

Bachelor and Law Degrees.

To be eligible to take the examination, an applicant must file as part of the application:

(a) Evidence satisfactory to the Board that prior to beginning the study of law, the applicant had received a Bachelor’s Degree from a college on the approved list of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, or the equivalent regional accrediting association, or any accreditation agency imposing at least substantially equivalent standards; and

(b) A certificate from the dean or supervising authority of the school of law in which the applicant is enrolled or from which the applicant graduated, that the school is accredited by the American Bar Association, or has been approved by the Board under Rule 7, § 2.03, and that the applicant has completed all the requirements for graduation and will have the number of credit hours required for graduation by the date of the bar examination.

(c) The Board in its discretion may waive the requirement of graduation from an accredited undergraduate school if the applicant has graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, Sec. 2.03

Sec. 2.03. Approval of Tennessee Law Schools Not Accredited by the American Bar Association.

The Board may approve any law school in Tennessee not accredited by the American Bar Association for the purpose of allowing its graduates to be eligible to take the Tennessee bar examination when the standards in this section are met and the Board finds the school is effectively achieving its mission and objectives.

Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, Sec. 4.02

Sec. 4.02. The Structure of the Examination.

The Board, in its discretion, shall determine the format and the structure of the examination, and shall include essay questions, the National Conference of Bar Examiners Multistate Bar Examination, other multiple choice questions, the National Conference of Bar Examiners Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination and such other categories of tests as the Board may consider appropriate. The Board may in its discretion use questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners for the Multistate Essay Examination. The Board may contract with others to provide test materials and to grade the same; provided that the Board shall not require successful completion of the National Conference of Bar Examiners Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination for any applicant who otherwise qualifies for admission to the Bar prior to July 1993.

Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 7, Sec. 5.01

Sec. 5.01. Minimum Requirement for Admission of Persons Admitted in Other Jurisdictions.

Any person who has been admitted and licensed to practice law in one or more states or in the District of Columbia may apply for admission in this State without examination, provided that such applicant:

(a)   meets the educational requirements imposed by this rule;

(b) has actively engaged in the practice of law pursuant to a license from one or more states or in the District of Columbia for five of the seven years immediately preceding such application for admission in this state.

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(e) has passed a bar examination equivalent to that required by the Board, with a grade at least equivalent to that required in Tennessee.

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Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 21, § 3.01

Each attorney admitted to practice law in the State of Tennessee shall attend, or complete an approved substitute for attendance, a minimum of twelve (12) actual hours of approved continuing legal education each calendar year, beginning January 1, 1987. In addition, beginning January 1, 1993, attorneys shall complete three (3) additional hours per year of approved continuing education in courses dealing with ethics and professionalism (“EP credits”). All hours of continuing legal education for each calendar year shall be earned by December 31 of that calendar year.


Inside Tennessee Admission Laws