Rule 21: Rule for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.
Section 1. Commission on Continuing Legal Education.
1.01. There is hereby established the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization consisting of 11 members, to be appointed by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Nine members shall be attorneys who are resident members of the Bar of this State (three of whom shall reside in each of the Grand Divisions of the State) and two shall be non-attorneys.
1.02. The Commission shall have the following duties:
(a) To exercise general supervisory authority over the administration of this Rule.
(b) To adopt regulations consistent with this Rule.
(c) To monitor developments in the operation of this rule, and to design, promulgate for discussion, test and recommend to this Court modifications to the Continuing Legal Education program in Tennessee as deemed appropriate by the Commission. In furtherance of this particular responsibility, the Commission may, with prior Court approval, from time to time, adopt by regulation, after notice and an opportunity to comment to the bar and CLE providers in Tennessee, new accreditation standards, evaluation programs, and other similar programs for trial periods not to exceed 42 months in duration.
1.03. With the exception of initial appointees, all Commission members shall hold office for three years and, until their successors are appointed, to staggered terms of office. The initial appointees shall serve as follows:
Three members for one year;
Three members for two years;
Three members for three years.
One of the initial non-attorney appointees shall serve for one year and the other for two years.
1.04. Any Commission vacancy shall be filled by the Supreme Court to serve until the expiration of the term in which the vacancy occurred. All members shall be eligible for reappointment for no more than one additional term.
1.05. Officers of the Commission shall consist of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. The Chairperson shall be appointed by the Supreme Court. Each of the other officers shall be elected by members of the Commission during their first meeting of each calendar year.
1.06. Meetings of the Commission may be held at any time upon notification by any officer to the entire Commission. Votes may be cast concerning any action before the Commission by registering an affirmative or negative vote during a physical meeting, or by electronic or telephonic means, or mail.
1.07. A quorum of six members shall be required for any Commission action. A majority of the members in attendance at any Commission meeting having a quorum, but no less than four affirmative votes, shall be necessary to approve any action.
1.08. Members of the Commission shall receive no compensation for their services but may be reimbursed by the Commission for their incidental travel and other expenses in accordance with the allowances approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
1.09. The Court shall appoint an executive director of the Commission, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Court. Following his or her appointment by the Court, the executive director shall report to the Commission, which shall conduct regular performance evaluations of the executive director and report such evaluations to the Court. The executive director may engage such staff as may be necessary to conduct the business of the Commission within the scope of this Rule.
1.10. Communications to the Commission, any subcommittee thereof, or to the Commission's staff relating to the failure of any lawyer to comply with this rule, or of any fraud upon the Commission shall be absolutely privileged, and no civil suit predicated thereon may be instituted against any complainant or a witness. Members of the Commission and its staff shall be immune from civil suit for any conduct in the course of their official duties.
Section 2. Scope and Exemptions.
2.01. This Rule shall apply to every person whose qualifications to practice law are subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The exemptions contained herein shall apply only to the mandatory continuing legal education requirements of this Rule.
2.02. Nonresident attorneys from other jurisdictions who are temporarily admitted to practice for a case or proceeding shall not be subject to this Rule.
2.03. Members of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not be subject to this Rule.
2.04. (a) An attorney shall be exempt from the requirements of the Rule after age sixty-five (65) upon filing a request with the Commission. This exemption shall not include the calendar year in which he or she becomes sixty-five (65) years of age.
(b) An attorney who is licensed to practice law in Tennessee but who resides outside of the State and does not practice law in Tennessee may petition the Commission for an Exceptional Relief of this Rule, as described below.
(c) An attorney may petition the Commission for an “Exceptional Relief ”from this Rule, and may be granted Exceptional Relief upon majority vote of the Commission. An attorney applying for Exceptional Relief, including appropriate waivers, extensions of time, hardship and extenuating circumstances, shall file with the Commission a brief showing cause why that individual should be considered for Exceptional Relief.
2.05. An attorney may receive 12 hours of general continuing legal education credit, and three hours of ethics and professionalism credit, for passing the bar examination of any state, any examination required by a certification program approved under this Rule, or the examination for admission to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In addition, an attorney may receive three hours of ethics and professionalism credit for passing either the ethics portion of a bar examination of any state or the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Examination. The maximum to be earned by passing any and all bar examinations in a given year is 12 hours of general credit and 3 hours of ethics/professionalism credit.
2.06. An attorney holding an elective office in the Executive or Legislative branches of government who is prohibited by law from practicing law is exempt while holding such office.
2.07. All Justices, Judges and Magistrates of the federal system shall be exempt from the requirements of this Rule in view of their required comparable continuing legal education programs.
Section 3. Continuing Legal Education Requirement.
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.
3.02. Attorneys who have a permanent physical disability which makes attendance of CLE programs inordinately difficult may file a request for a substitute program in lieu of attendance and shall therein set out continuing legal education plans tailored to their specific interests and physical abilities. The Commission shall review and approve or disapprove such plans on an individual basis. Denial of any requested substitute for attendance will be accompanied by reasons for the denial of the application and suggestions how the attorney might improve his or her application for an approved substitute for attendance.
3.03. Each attorney must actually attend fifteen (15) instructional hours of CLE per year. An instructional hour shall be determined by the Commission.
Section 4. Continuing Legal Education Credits.
4.01. Credit will be given only for continuing legal education activities approved by the Commission.
4.02. Hours of credit in excess of the minimum annual requirement may be carried forward for credit in the succeeding calendar year, but only for the succeeding calendar year. EP credits in excess of the annual requirement will, to a maximum of three (3) hours, be carried forward to the subsequent year's EP requirement, but will not be used to satisfy any deficiency in the twelve (12) hour general requirement. Such hours must, however, be reported and paid for when the Annual Report Statement for the year in which the hours were earned is filed.
4.03. Credit may be earned through teaching in an approved continuing legal education activity. Presentations accompanied by thorough, high quality, readable and carefully prepared written materials will qualify for CLE credit on the basis of four (4) hours of credit for each hour of presentation. Presentations accompanied by less than five pages of outlines, or not accompanied by written materials, will qualify for CLE credit on the basis of two (2) credits per hour of presentation. Repeat presentations qualify for one-half of the credits awarded for the initial presentation.
Credit may also be earned through teaching in an approved law school, or teaching law-related courses at the undergraduate or graduate level in an approved college or university. The Commission will award four (4) hours of CLE credit for each hour of academic credit awarded by the law school for the course taught.
4.04. Credit may be earned through formal enrollment and education of a postgraduate nature, either for credit or by audit, in an approved law school. The Commission will award one (1) credit hour for each hour of class attendance.
4.05. Credit may be earned through service as a bar examiner in Tennessee or in any of the sister states. The Commission will award twelve (12) hours of general CLE credit and three (3) hours of EP credit annually for the preparation and grading of one or more bar examination questions during a given year.
4.06. The Commission will award three (3) hours of EP credit annually for service on the Board of Professional Responsibility or any of its hearing committees.
4.07. The Commission may, in its discretion, award:
(a) Up to one-half of the annual requirement to attorneys for participation as members of governmental commissions, committees, or other governmental bodies, at either the state or national level, involved in formal sessions for review of proposed legislation, rules or regulations.
(b) Up to the full annual requirement for writing articles concerning substantive law, the practice of law, or the ethical and professional responsibilities of attorneys if the articles are published in approved publications intended primarily for attorneys; credit shall not be awarded to a named author when the actual principal authority was another person acting under the direction or supervision of the named author. In requesting credit under this subsection, the attorney shall provide the Commission with an affidavit stating the facts of authorship.
(c) Ethics and professionalism credit at the rate of one hour of credit for every five billable hours of pro bono legal representation provided through court appointment, an organized bar association program or legal services organization, or of pro bono mediation services as required by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 or the Federal Court Mediation Programs established by the United States District Courts in Tennessee. Ethics and professionalism credits awarded pursuant to this paragraph shall be exempt from the per-hour fee imposed by section 8 of this rule. The change in the number of billable hours from eight (8) per one hour of credit to five (5) per one hour of credit shall lapse on December 31, 2014, unless renewed by the Court. The TCCLES shall study the effect of the change in recruitment of lawyers to undertake pro bono representation and report the effect of the change.
(d) up to 6 hours per year of dual credit for participation as a mentor or mentee in a program meeting standards established by the Commission, including programs sponsored by bar associations, law schools, law firms, or other appropriate governmental or organizational sponsors. To help facilitate establishment of mentoring programs, the Commission is authorized to provide for a program of training for mentors, whether through its own auspices or through those of other organizations, and to charge a reasonable fee for such training. With regard to mentors participating in a mentoring program sponsored by a governmental or non-profit organization, the Commission is authorized to provide such training at no charge. This paragraph (d) shall take effect on July 1, 2013, and shall expire on December 31, 2016, unless affirmatively readopted by the Supreme Court.
4.08. A maximum of eight (8) hours of credit per year earned in a distance learning format approved by the Commission pursuant to section 5.01(f) may be applied to the annual requirements.
Section 5. Continuing Legal Education Providers.
5.01. The following standards will govern the approval by the Commission of continuing legal education activities:
(a) The activity must have significant intellectual or practical content and its primary objective must be to enhance the participant's professional competence as an attorney.
(b) The activity must deal primarily with matters related to substantive law, the practice of law, professional responsibility or ethical obligations of attorneys.
(c) The activity must be offered by a provider having substantial recent experience in offering continuing legal education or demonstrated ability to organize and present effectively continuing legal education. Demonstrated ability arises partly from the extent to which individuals with legal training or educational experience are involved in the planning, instruction and supervision of the activity.
(d) The activity itself must be conducted by an individual or group qualified by practical or academic legal experience. The program, including the named advertised instructors, must be conducted substantially as planned, subject to emergency withdrawals and alterations.
(e) Thorough, high quality, readable, and carefully prepared written materials must be made available to all participants at or before the time the course is presented, unless the absence of such materials is recognized as reasonable and approved by the Commission. A mere outline without citations or explanatory notations will not be sufficient.
(f) The activity must be conducted in a comfortable physical setting, which is conducive to learning, or in a distance learning format approved by the Commission.
(g) No activity consisting solely of the viewing or hearing of pre-recorded material may be awarded credit.
(h) Activities that cross academic lines, such as accounting-tax seminars, may be considered for approval.
5.02. Continuing legal education activities of worthy providers may be presumptively approved by the Commission, provided such provider demonstrates to the Commission that the provider has over a substantial period of time conducted CLE activities meeting the standards for approval.
5.03. Each provider approved for credit, will be held responsible for including ethics education into its overall annual program.
5.04. The Commission may at any time re-evaluate a program and revoke specific approval of any particular seminar or presumptive approval of a provider.
5.05. Any provider (not presumptively approved) desiring to advertise Commission approval of a course, program, or other activity, may submit application for such permission and supporting documentation on forms provided by the Commission at least forty-five (45) days prior to the date on which the course or program is scheduled. Documentation shall include a statement of the provider's intention to comply with the accreditation standards of this Rule, copies of programs and written materials distributed to participants at the two most recently produced programs, if available, or an outline of the proposed program and list of instructors if the provider has not produced previous programs, and such further information as the Commission shall request. The staff of the Commission will advise the provider whether the activity is approved or disapproved in writing by mail within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the completed application.
Providers denied approval of a program or activity may appeal such a decision by submitting a letter of appeal to the Commission Chair within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the notice of disapproval and the Commission shall consider the appeal within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the appeal, whereupon the decision of the Commission shall be promptly delivered to the provider.
Any provider or Tennessee attorney who has attended a CLE activity not approved in advance by the Commission may submit to the Commission similar material on forms provided by the Commission and receive approval of a program after the program is conducted.
5.06. The provider of a continuing legal education activity approved in advance or a presumptively approved provider may advertise or indicate approval of an activity, as follows:
“This course has been approved by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education for a maximum of ____ hours of credit.”
Section 6. Annual Report.
6.01. On or before January 31 of each year, the Commission shall prepare and mail an Annual Report Statement to each attorney covered by this Rule requesting information concerning the attorney's compliance with Section 3 of this Rule in the preceding calendar year. The Annual Report Statement shall be mailed to the attorney's address as shown in the most recent registration statement filed by the attorney pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 10.1, or to the attorney’s last known address.
6.02. On or before March 1, each attorney shall complete the Annual Report Statement, indicating his or her completion of, exemption from, or approved substitute for accredited continuing legal education during the preceding calendar year, and shall deliver the completed Annual Report Statement to the Commission. The completed Annual Report Statement shall disclose all CLE hours earned during the preceding calendar year, including any hours to be carried forward to the following year. Any attorney whose Annual Report Statement demonstrates compliance with Section 3 of this Rule, and whose Annual Report Statement demonstrates that all fees due the Commission for the preceding calendar year have been paid, shall be exempt from the requirement to sign and deliver to the Commission the Annual Report Statement described herein.
6.03. The files and records of the Commission are deemed confidential and shall not be disclosed except in furtherance of the duties of the Commission; statistical abstracts may, however, be drawn therefrom in an anonymous fashion.
Section 7. Noncompliance and Sanctions
7.01. By March 31 of each year, the Commission shall compile:
(a) A list of those attorneys who did not timely file an Annual Report Statement for the preceding calendar year; and
(b) A list of those attorneys who timely filed an Annual Report Statement indicating lack of compliance with the requirements of Section 3 of this Rule for the preceding calendar year; and
(c) A list of those attorneys who timely filed an Annual Report Statement indicating compliance with the requirements of Section 3 of this Rule for the preceding calendar year but who did not pay any and all fees due under Section 8.03 of this Rule.
7.02. On March 31 of each year, the Commission shall serve each attorney listed on any of the three foregoing lists a Notice of Non-completion requiring the attorney to remedy his/her deficiencies on or before May 31 of that year. The notice shall be served upon the attorney by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, at the address shown in the most recent registration statement filed by the attorney pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 10.1 or other last known address.
7.03. Each attorney to whom a Notice of Non-completion is issued shall pay to the Commission a non-completion fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). Such non-completion fee shall be paid on or before May 31 of that year unless the attorney shows to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of the Commission that the Notice of Non-completion was erroneously issued, in which case no such fee is due.
7.04. Each attorney to whom a Notice of Non-completion is issued shall file an affidavit with the Commission on or before May 31 of that year showing that he or she has remedied his/her deficiencies. In the event an attorney fails to timely remedy his/her deficiencies or fails to timely file such affidavit, the attorney shall pay to the Commission, in addition to the non-completion fee, a delinquent compliance fee of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00).
7.05. On July 1 of each year, the Commission shall prepare a draft Suspension Order listing all attorneys who were issued Notices of Non-completion and who failed to remedy their deficiencies by May 31. The Commission shall submit the draft Suspension Order to the Supreme Court for informational purposes. The Commission also shall mail a copy of the draft Suspension Order to each attorney named in the draft Order by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address shown in the most recent registration statement filed by the attorney pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 10.1 or other last known address.
7.06. On or before August 10, each attorney listed in the draft Suspension Order may file an affidavit in a form acceptable to the Commission showing compliance with Section 3 of this Rule for the preceding calendar year. Upon the Commission’s approval of such affidavit and upon the attorney’s payment of all outstanding fees, the Commission shall remove the attorney’s name from the list of potential suspensions contained in the draft Suspension Order.
7.07. On August 15, the Commission shall submit to the Supreme Court a final Suspension Order listing all attorneys with active Tennessee law licenses who failed to comply with this Rule for the preceding calendar year. Also on August 15, the Commission shall notify the Board of Professional Responsibility of the names of all licensed attorneys who have retired, taken inactive status, been suspended, or whose license to practice law in this state is otherwise inactive, and who failed to comply with the requirements of this Rule. The Supreme Court will review the final Suspension Order and, upon the Court’s approval, shall enter the Suspension Order suspending the law license of each attorney listed in the order. The Board of Professional Responsibility shall not reactivate the license of any attorney whose license is suspended pursuant to this Rule until the Commission certifies completion of a program of remedial continuing legal education satisfactory to the Commission.
7.08. Each attorney named in the final Suspension Order entered by the Court or whose name is submitted to the Board of Professional Responsibility as ineligible for reactivation for failure to meet the requirements of this rule shall pay to the Commission a Five Hundred Dollar ($500) Suspension Fee as a condition of reinstatement of his or her law license. The suspension fee shall be paid in addition to the non-completion fee and the delinquent compliance fee.
7.09. Payment of all fees imposed in this section shall be a requirement for compliance with this Rule.
7.10. An attorney suspended or made ineligible for reactivation by the Commission pursuant to this Rule may file with the Commission an application for reinstatement demonstrating compliance with Section 3 of this Rule. If the application is satisfactory to the Commission, if the attorney is otherwise eligible for reinstatement, and if the attorney has paid in full all fees due under this Rule, the Commission will recommend to the Supreme Court that the Court reinstate the attorney’s law license.
7.11. An attorney may request a hearing before the Commission in regard to a recommendation of suspension or a recommendation against reinstatement. Additionally, any attorney not finding suitable relief before the Commission may petition the Supreme Court for modification or reversal of actions of the Commission. [Added by order filed March 21, 2002.]
7.12. No attorney suspended under this Rule 21 may resume practice until reinstated by Order of the Supreme Court.
Section 8. Financing.
8.01. The Commission shall be adequately funded to enable it to perform its duties in a financially independent and responsible manner. For the first year that this Rule is in effect, however, it is expected that Petitioner Tennessee Bar Association, and perhaps the Tennessee Bar Foundation, upon financial arrangements suitable to the Commission, will furnish housing, fiscal and planning assistance and other management details for the program set forth in this Rule.
8.02. Providers of CLE programs held within the State of Tennessee as a condition of accreditation shall agree to remit to the Commission an alphabetical list of Tennessee attendees and to pay a fee of $1.25 per approved credit hour for each Tennessee attorney who attends the program. This provider's fee, along with the list of attendees, shall be submitted within thirty (30) days after the program is held.
Information contained in the report required by this section, or by section 5.05, or any Commission requirement under this Rule, or obtained by the Commission through analysis or comparison of such reports or information shall be deemed confidential and shall not be disclosed by the Commission to any party other than the sponsor providing the original information. This requirement of confidentiality extends but is not limited to information or analyses based on number of attendees, hours of credit earned, and evaluations of programs. Statistical information not identifying particular sponsors may be disclosed by the Commission in its discretion.
8.03. Attorneys attending approved out of state CLE programs, or other programs for which the sponsor does not report and pay the per-hour fee, shall be responsible for remitting their individual fees at the rate set under § 8.04. This fee shall be paid at the time of, and along with, the report of such hours.
8.04. The Commission will review the level of the fees at least annually and adjust the levels as necessary to maintain adequate finances for prudent operation of the Commission.
8.05. The Commission shall deposit all funds collected hereunder with the State Treasurer; all such funds including earnings on investments and all interest and proceeds from said funds, if any, are deemed to be, and shall be designated as, funds belonging solely to the Commission. Withdrawals from those funds shall only be made by the Commission for the purposes set forth in this rule, and for such other purposes as this Court may from time to time authorize or direct.
Section 9. Effective Dates of the Rule.
9.01. The establishment of the foregoing program for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for Tennessee attorneys shall be effective beginning with the calendar year 1987 and shall continue until such time as the Supreme Court shall determine that its program is no longer in keeping with the Court's responsibility to the legal profession in Tennessee and the public which it serves.
Section 10. Certification of Specialists.
10.01. The Commission is authorized to establish programs to certify as specialists attorneys practicing in this state in such areas of practice as the Commission may deem appropriate.
10.02. The Commission shall implement this program in a manner which will:
(a) Best enhance the ability of the citizens of Tennessee to identify attorneys with special competence in particular areas of practice;
(b) Minimize the administrative costs associated with this program by contracting with private agencies to perform any or all portions of a certification procedure for particular specialties subject to standards established by the Commission;
(c) Insure that the administrative costs of this program are covered by fees assessed to Tennessee attorneys applying for certification as specialists, or certified or recertified as specialists, or from annual fees assessed specialists, or from fees generated under section 8.02 of this Rule from credits earned by certified specialists in excess of the minimum requirements of this Rule.
10.03. At a minimum, any certification standards established by the Commission must provide a reasonable basis for the determination that the lawyer possesses special competence in a particular field of law, as demonstrated by the following means:
(a) Experience: Experience may be established either by a showing by the lawyer that he or she has completed a list of specific tasks, or that he or she has spent at least 25% of his or her practice in the specialty area during the preceding three years.
(b) Knowledge: Knowledge of the specialty area shall be established by a written or oral examination, a portion of which must be devoted to professional responsibility and ethics as it relates to the specialty.
(c) Practice Management: Any certification standard established by the Commission must include a self-evaluation checklist for completion by the attorney to ascertain that he or she has and maintains appropriate substantive law systems, office procedures, staff training programs, and accounting controls to assist in meeting the client's substantive legal needs, communicating adequately with the client concerning his or her legal matters, and appropriately receiving, holding, disbursing, and accounting for funds received from clients in accordance with all applicable disciplinary rules. The appropriate checklist for each specialty certification must be filed by each certified specialist with the Commission annually.
(d) Quality Review: Any certification program approved by the Commission must include a provision for investigation of references from attorneys or judges, and clients concerning the knowledge, skills, ethics, diligence and client relations of the attorney seeking certification and (with a release from the applicant) the history of ethical complaints and disciplinary actions about the applicant with the Board of Professional Responsibility. In no event shall any certification program require that references be obtained from specialists certified by that program.
(e) Continuing Expertise: Recertification based on standards approved by the Commission shall be required at least every six years.
(f) Malpractice Insurance. Any specialist certified under this Rule must annually file with the Commission proof of the existence of adequate malpractice insurance coverage, unless the specialist is practicing exclusively as an employee of a governmental agency or agencies, or exclusively as an employee as in-house corporate counsel for a single corporate entity.
10.04. Prior to implementation of any certification program, the Commission shall file with the Supreme Court and publish to the attorneys of Tennessee the complete certification standards proposed for that program. For 90 days after such publication, any person or entity desiring to do so may file comments on the proposed certification program with the Supreme Court and a copy with the Commission. The proposed certification program shall be effective upon entry by the Supreme Court of an Order approving the program either as submitted by the Commission or with any modifications set forth in the Order.
10.05. Nothing in this plan shall in any way limit the right of any lawyer to practice in any field of law.
10.06. For any certification program established by the Commission, the Commission shall specifically consider whether the program contains adequate safeguards to prevent cultural biases in examinations or other matters from unfairly preventing or inhibiting minority or women attorneys from becoming certified. Such safeguards may include, but are not limited to, a policy of including minority and women attorneys in decision-making groups designing and grading examinations, reviewing references, and other similar matters by any private agency performing any portion of a certification procedure.
10.07. The Commission may establish and collect reasonable fees from attorneys applying for certification or recertification, and annual fees from certified specialists.
10.08. The Commission shall approve or deny applications for certification and recertification. The Commission in the exercise of its discretion to approve or deny such application shall consider the requirements of this Rule, the certification standards approved by this Court, and any history of disciplinary complaints. The Commission shall revoke the certification of any attorney whose qualifications and disciplinary record no longer meet the requirements of this Rule and any applicable certification standards.
[As adopted by order filed September 25, 1986 and designated by orders entered Rule 21: September 26 and 29, 1986; and amended by orders entered June 22, 1988, July 25, 1988, October 5, 1988, March 1, 1991, and October 29, 1991, April 7, 1992, April 17, 1992, July 1, 1993, December 14, 1994, September 21, 2010, April 30, 2012, effective January 1, 2012, January 11, 2013, effective July 1, 2013, and by order filed August 30, 2013, effective January 1, 2014.]Back to Top