Supreme Court Modifies Certain Provisions of Rule 7 Related to July 2020 Bar Exam

The Tennessee Supreme Court entered an Order today approving temporary changes to provisions of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7 to address ongoing concerns with the July 2020 bar exam in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bar exam is currently scheduled for July 28-29 and the Order provides some assurance to applicants.

The Court has extended the amount of time certain applicants will be able to practice pending bar examination results and the expiration of MPRE scores. Additionally, the Court has established a process for transfer of a July 2020 examination application to either a fall exam, if one is scheduled, or the February 2021 exam and has permitted the Board to offer a full refund of fees.

Providing information now, particularly about extension of the ability to practice under supervision or pending admission, will provide guidance to applicants and potential applicants while preserving the issue of when or whether there will be another exam in 2020. The changes permit applicants to practice law longer pending a bar examination by slightly modifying current rules. The changes also mitigate delays in licensing by permitting concurrent applications so applicants may transfer Uniform Bar Examination (“UBE”) scores. The temporary changes are in Rule 7, sections 3.05, 4.07, 10.04, 10.07 and 11.03. A copy of the order can be found here.

“The Board thanks the Court for its swift action in addressing these issues for our law students and exam applicants. With the uncertainty surrounding a 2020 examination, we now have a clear path for our July 2020 exam applicants moving forward,” said Bill Harbison, President of the Board of Law Examiners.

Anyone wishing to sit for the examination in Tennessee in 2020 is encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible. The initial deadline for application for the July 2020 exam is on May 1 and the final deadline is May 20. Instructions for “how to apply” can be found here

Mr. Harbison said, “The Court’s temporary changes to Rule 7 address many of the questions being asked by recent graduates and exam takers arising from the COVID-19 crisis. Tennessee has a plan for bar exam applicants, whether we move forward with no examination or multiple examinations in 2020, that provides opportunities to practice, to transfer the July 2020 application to a different exam, and to seek concurrent admission.”