Tennessee Supreme Court Adopts Updated Bar Examination

The Tennessee Supreme Court announced, today, that starting with the July 2027 administration of the bar examination, law school graduates applying to become licensed attorneys in Tennessee will take the “NextGen Bar Exam” rather than the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which has been used in Tennessee since February 2019.

The UBE is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Tennessee has administered the UBE each February and July, and will continue to administer the UBE until it transitions to the NextGen examination in July 2027. To update the bar exam, the National Conference of Bar Examiners has spent years developing the NextGen Exam and will no longer offer the current components of the UBE after the July 2028 exam.

Tennessee is one of 17 other jurisdictions in announcing plans to adopt the NextGen Bar Exam. The exam will focus on a broad range of foundational skills, using a set of clearly identified legal concepts and principles required for the competent practice of law. Another benefit of The NextGen Bar Exam is that it will continue to allow test takers to transfer scores between states that participate in the UBE portability program. This will continue to provide for score portability among participating jurisdictions, including Tennessee.  “The NextGen exam furthers our goal of ensuring that new attorneys in Tennessee have the knowledge and skills to meet their clients’ legal needs,” said Justice Jeff Bivins, the Supreme Court Liaison to the Board of Law Examiners, “It also helps ensure that Tennessee remains part of a broad group of jurisdictions supporting lawyer mobility by offering portable bar exam scores that can be used for admission elsewhere.”

“Adopting the NextGen Bar Exam will enable Tennessee to continue offering a reliable licensing exam, which will ensure competency and continue to offer applicants the opportunity to become licensed in multiple jurisdictions,” said Bob Parsley, President of the Board of Law Examiners. Various professions have updated their competency examinations in recent years. In 2018, the National Conference of Bar Examiners launched a comprehensive review of the UBE, which has been used since 2011. The National Conference of Bar Examiners focused on changes in the legal profession and legal education. Its review included listening sessions with more than 400 stakeholders from bar admission agencies, Supreme Courts, law schools, attorneys from across the country, and a nationwide practice analysis involving nearly 15,000 lawyers. Two committees composed of bar admission representatives, legal educators, and legal practitioners evaluated all the data obtained from these outreach efforts to provide input on what content the NextGen bar exam should test and how that content should be assessed. The National Conference of Bar Examiners continues to work on refining the NextGen Bar Exam in response to comments from stakeholders across the country.