Tennessee Supreme Court Allows Applicants Affected By Federal Government Shutdown To Take Tennessee Bar Exam

January 24, 2019

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order today allowing the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners to reopen bar exam applications for the February 26-27, 2019 exam to allow applicants who had applied to take the exam in Washington, D.C. to take the exam in Tennessee. Around 900 law graduates had planned to take the D.C. bar exam, which may be cancelled because of the federal government shutdown.  By reopening the applications for the Tennessee exam, the Supreme Court will extend an opportunity for up to 70 February D.C. exam applicants, many of whom are from Tennessee, to take the exam in Nashville. The bar exam is administered in February and July on the same dates in all states. The D.C. applicants who cannot take the exam in February must wait until July 2019 to take the exam. 

The D.C. exam is given by federal employees of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Committee on Admissions, who have been furloughed since December 22, 2018. If the federal government reopens soon, it is unclear whether the furloughed employees will be able to process and review applications in time for the exam.

“Tennessee is in a position to help bar exam applicants adversely affected by the federal government shutdown,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. “We are known as the Volunteer State, and the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners are ready to step up and do what is needed.”

Lisa Perlen, Executive Director of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, said the Board and its staff “are glad to make room for the D.C. applicants at our Nashville exam site and will immediately begin reviewing applications as they are received.”

Both Tennessee and Washington, D.C. administer the Uniform Bar Exam. This means that a bar exam score earned in Tennessee may transfer to the District of Columbia for admittance to the bar after the government reopens. Applications will be accepted for the reopened Tennessee bar beginning January 25 and will close February 6. Applicants must have timely applied to take the February D.C. exam and are subject to the same rules as all other Tennessee applicants.

To view the Order, click here.

For more information on the extension and application process, please visit www.tnble.org.