Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina
If you have been looking for the latest information on best pre-law schools in tennessee & best law schools in nc, rest easy as you have stumbled on the right article with the latest information on them. All you have to do is read on to know more.
You will also discover related posts on law schools in tennessee ranking, university of tennessee pre law, best law schools in tennessee & best law schools in the south on collegelearners.
About Best Law Schools in Tennessee
Becoming a lawyer requires passing the bar.
Passing the bar requires strong foundational knowledge.
A strong foundational knowledge requires entrance into a reputable law school.
The United States has 237 law schools, 205 of which have ABA-approval. If you want to acquire your degree in Tennessee, that list narrows to four. Lincoln Memorial University has a law school, too, though it did not qualify for these rankings.
Picking a school is a Herculean task. Consequently, we are here to make the process more manageable. We have researched and ranked every program in Tennessee based on tuition, value, history, and programs.
Here is what you need to know about the top four law schools in Tennessee:
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1) Vanderbilt University
National Ranking1: 18
Bar Passage Rate: 95 percent
Cost of Tuition: $57,558 full-time
Acceptance Rate: 23.7 percent
LSAT2: 161 – 168
GPA: 3.61 – 3.87
Even thoughVanderbilt is in the Southeastern Conference; it carries the same reputation as an Ivy League school. The law program is consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the country. Vanderbilt University recently placed 18th in U.S. News and World Report. It is also one of the most selective and oldest laws schools in the southern United States.
Vanderbilt University Law School, or VLS, opened in 1874 with seven students and eight professors. Through the early 20th century, classes remained small with the enrollment never exceeding 70. Over time, the school has received significant endowments and underwent several renovations.
It has expanded its current enrollment to 640 students.
Students have the option to pursue a Juris Doctor or Master of Laws. The most popular upper concentration is in Law & Business. Other areas of emphasis include energy, environmental law, land use, criminal law, social justice, international law, intellectual property, as well as ligation and dispute law.
VLS also offers a study abroad program in comparative and international law in Venice. Students can opt to study at clinics or externships, too. As of 2013, 85.9 percent of graduates end up with a job after graduation, and only 6.3 percent are underemployed.
2) University of Tennessee-Knoxville
National Ranking: 59
Bar Passage Rate: 86 percent
Cost of Tuition: $19,674 in-state, $38,348 out-of-state
Acceptance Rate: 37.3 percent
LSAT: 154 – 160
GPA: 3.25 – 3.78
The University of Tennessee College of Law is a fully accredited public institution in Knoxville. Founded in 1890, the program enrolls 460 students and 43 faculty members. The school offers a Juris Doctor with concentration areas in Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, as well as Business Transactions.
Students can also opt for a dual-degree that combines law with business, philosophy, public health, or public administration. Notably, the UT College of Law has one of the longest-running advocacy clinics in the country. U.S. News and World Report placed the clinic 10th nationally among all public clinical programs.
3) Belmont University
National Ranking: T-138
Bar Passage Rate: 92.6 percent
Cost of Tuition: $44,470 full-time
Acceptance Rate: 52.4 percent
LSAT: 153 – 157
GPA: 3.31 – 3.7
Fewer programs in the country are younger than Belmont University College of Law. The private university opened its law school in 2011 and earned its accreditation from the ABA two years later. Despite its youth, Belmont has garnered a strong reputation for academic excellence in Tennessee.
Based on the Class of 2018, 96 percent of BU College of Law graduates were full-time employees within a year of graduating. Of those students, 89 percent remained in Tennessee, and 63 percent worked in a law firm. According to Belmont Law’s Law School Transparency, only 6.4 percent were unemployed.
BU College of Law offers specialized certificate programs in criminal law, health, and entertainment law. Students can receive hands-on experience through the university’s four academic journals, externships, and Board of Advocates programs.
In July 2019, 97.18 percent of first-time bar test-takers passed, giving Belmont the highest mark in the state and 12th highest in the country.
4) University of Memphis
National Ranking: T-138
Bar Passage Rate: 81.1 percent
Cost of Tuition: $19,197 in-state, $26,402 out-of-state
Acceptance Rate: 52.4 percent
LSAT: 147 – 152
GPA: 2.93 – 3.63
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is the only law school in the city. The school has had ABA-accreditation since 1965 and enrolls 314 full-time students.
Currently, it offers programs in the following areas:
Institute for Health Law and Policy
International Law Programs
Memphis Law School is known for its affordability. The National Jurist Magazine named it as one of the best values while PreLaw Magazine gave it an A- grade for value. Additionally, the average residential graduate leaves with $108,509 in deb ( if they receive a median discount), which is below the national average of $122,000.
1 – According to U.S. News and World Report
2 – 25th to 75th percentile
The decision to pursue a legal education and a career in law is part of a complex process, but it does not have to be difficult. As you prepare, remember to continuously answer the following questions for yourself:
Why do you want to go?
What do you want to do?
Do you know the reality of the career?
Is it the best investment of your time and money?
Please review the information below and consult with your advisor.
What should I major in?
Although Political Science is by far the most popular major for Pre-Law students, law schools have no preference for your major. Their concern is with the quality of your educational experience and the skills you have developed along the way. Find a major that interests and engages you, and be sure to discuss these choices with your advisor. Consider developing your academic plan in a way that helps you develop the skills required for law students by the American Bar Association.
Analytic and problem solving
Oral communication and listening
Public service and promotion of justice
How do I prepare?
Be sure there is academic rigor in your plan and remember that your GPA is important. Don’t be overly ambitious and overload yourself, but also don’t seek out “easy” choices for course selection.
Honors programs and courses are great choices, especially since most include a writing component. Writing is a critical skill in the law profession, so take every opportunity you can to hone those skills.
Minors and electives are a great way to supplement your degree and provide variety and interesting focus to your major. Minors like English, History, and Religious Studies can be great choices for students who are majoring in a field without a lot of writing intensive courses.
Engage in leadership opportunities through campus organizations and university programs like Ignite and LeaderShape.
Start early getting to know faculty. Your letters of reference are very important, and quality recommendations only come from strong relationships with the referral source.
Your application is reviewed through a holistic process. Your LSAT score and GPA are the most important, but other factors such as your work experience, service and leadership, personal statement, recommendations, and contribution to the school’s diversity also contribute. See your advisor to discuss how you will make all those components the best they can be, and be sure to meet with an academic coach at the Student Success Center to talk about strategies to be a solid student.
You can discuss your personal statement through the Writing Center and in conference with your advisor and references. Get involved in Phi Alpha Delta and the National Black Law Student Association to build a network of fellow students with similar interests.
How do I apply?
Your application requirements will vary by school, but you will always need a competitive GPA and LSAT score, personal statement, and letters of reference. That information is all shared through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service. See more here.
What is the 3+3 Program?
The 3+3 program is an accelerated BS to JD program that is an exclusive agreement between the College of Arts and Sciences and the UT College of Law. Students in this program have the opportunity to finish three years of undergraduate work, and if accepted, begin their first year of law school in lieu of their fourth year of undergraduate study.
For more information, schedule an appointment with your advisor. To learn more from UT Law
Greetings to all students at Tennessee State University interested in attending law school. This site will help you in your preparation. The goal of this site is to help students on their journey:
Who can answer my questions?
What major should I choose?
What classes do I take?
Where can I find information about law schools, admission requirements, and the LSAT?
Who Can Answer My Questions?
The College of Liberal Arts provides pre-law advising services to all students, regardless of major or college. The designated pre-law advisor is Dr. Robert Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice.
Dr. Smith’s office is located in Crouch Hall 313-E. You may contact him with questions, or to set up an advising appointment, at [email protected].
A pre-law advising session does not take the place of meeting with your regularly assigned advisor, who is responsible for helping you make progress in your major. Dr. Smith will help you plan for law school within the parameters of your major, help you identify resources, and help keep you moving in the right direction.
What Major Should I Choose?
Many students have a preconceived notion that to go to law school they need to study pre-law as an undergraduate.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
“Pre-law” is not an undergraduate major.
Furthermore, law schools frown upon this designation. Law schools do not want undergraduates who are narrowly educated; they want students who are broadly educated.
ANY MAJOR can qualify you for law school. The key is that you develop your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. You want to choose a major and courses in your major that challenge you, require you to think critically, require reading and analysis, and writing!
Within those parameters, any major is acceptable.
What Classes Do I Take?
First, you should be taking courses that meet your degree requirements. In your major, when given options, choose the courses that are the most challenging.
Which courses have the most reading requirements?
Which have the most writing requirements?
Which courses require you to present your ideas in class?
Which courses will challenge you intellectually?
Which courses have professors that will challenge you?
The goal is to get the best education possible. Law schools want students who can think, read, write, and speak!
Outside of your major, choose a challenging minor or electives that reinforce these goals.
Where Can I Find Information About Law Schools, Admission Requirements, and the LSAT?
Admission to law school is highly competitive. As a result, your undergraduate GPA is very important. You want your grades to be as high as possible.
Another important factor in law school admissions will be your Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score. The test consists of five 35 minute multiple choice sections that test your ability in reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. It concludes with a 35 minute writing sample. The best time to take the LSAT is in June of your junior year, or October of your senior year, which will allow you to meet the application deadlines in the first part of the spring semester of your senior year.
Other important factors are your letters of reference and your personal statement.
While there are many websites that have valuable information about law schools, LSAC.org is the definitive place to find the information you need. The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) website has information about thinking about law school, applying to law school, choosing a law school, financing law school, diversity initiatives, and it administers the LSAT. For online law school resources, LSAC.org is the place to start.
According to information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, in 2016 the mean annual salary for lawyers in Tennessee was $127,700. Tennessee lawyers earning in the 90th percentile could make in excess of $208,000 annually. Lawyers in Tennessee may become certified to practice in a variety of specialization areas, including civil law, criminal law, elder law, family law, juvenile law, social security disability law, bankruptcy law, estate planning law, malpractice law and DUI defense. If your goal is to become a licensed lawyer and member of the Tennessee bar, keep reading to discover the steps you should take to realize this goal.
Step 1Get Your Tennessee Undergraduate Pre-Law Major
Pre-legal education is required under the rules of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. You must obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to going to law school.
The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners requires that, before enrolling in law school, you receive a bachelor’s degree from a college on the approved list of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (or of any equivalent regional accreditation association such as):
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
New England Commission of Higher Education
The Higher Learning Commission
Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
Requirements and Standards
Although the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners mandates that you must have a bachelor’s degree in addition to your law degree when you sit for the state’s bar exam, it does not mandate the course of study or types of classes you should take. The American Bar Association (ABA) has said that pre-legal education should be challenging and interesting, above all. Certain courses like criminal justice, political science, government, philosophy, human behavior, business, and English may help you as you work towards your goal of becoming a Tennessee lawyer if taken during your undergraduate education.
You may receive your bachelor’s degree in any area in which you choose, as a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA), as long as the degree comes from an accredited institution.
Washington University School of Law, Top-20 law school – 1-Year Online Master of Legal Studies, No GRE/LSAT required.
Arizona State University Online – Earn Your Master of Legal Studies in as little as one year.
Purdue University Global – Online Bachelor’s in Legal Support and Services – Paralegal Concentration
Rasmussen University – Online Paralegal Associate Degree and Post-Degree Certificate Programs
Post University – Online Associate and Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
Law and Paralegal Studies
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Step 2LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Tennessee
The next major hurdle you must accomplish on your way to becoming a Tennessee lawyer is to pass the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test.
How to prepare
Ways that you may prepare for the LSAT in Tennessee include:
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Tennessee:
LSAT Prep, TestMasters, University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville
LSAT Prep Course, Kaplan, Nashville
LSAT Prep, Manhattan Prep, online
The standardized LSAT is a half-day in length, and is made up of five sections with questions of three different types:
Reading Comprehension: these questions evaluate your ability to read and comprehend complex materials that mimic types of materials you will encounter in law school
Analytical Reasoning : these questions evaluate your ability to comprehend relationship structures and to make logical conclusions about them
Logical Reasoning: these questions gauge your ability to comprehend, analyze, criticize, and complete arguments
You will also encounter an unscored, experimental section, which will repeat one of the above sections. You will not know which section is the experimental one, so try your best on all sections of the test. At the end of the LSAT, you must produce a writing sample on a given topic. This, too, is not scored as part of the LSAT. However, it will be sent to the law schools to which you apply to determine your viability as a law school candidate.
Plan to take the LSAT no sooner than after your junior year in undergraduate school is completed. Applications to take the LSAT are submitted online through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The LSAT is offered in February, June, October and December. You should not take the test as late as October or December of the year in which you plan to apply to law school, however. Testing centers in Tennessee include:
Belmont University College of Law, 1901 15th Ave S., Nashville, TN 37212
The University of Memphis, 3720 Alumni Ave, Memphis, TN 38152
John J. Duncan, Jr. School of Law, Lincoln Memorial University, 601 W. Summit Hill Dr SW, Knoxville, TN 37902
Southern Adventist University, 4881 Taylor Circle, Collegedale, TN 37315
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, 615 McCallie Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598
Union University, 1050 Union University Dr, Jackson, TN 38305-3697
East Tennessee State University, 1276 Gilbreath Dr, Johnson City, TN 37614
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996
Middle Tennessee State University, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132
Tennessee State University, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
Vanderbilt University, 2101 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37235
Sewanee: The University of the South, 735 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN 37383
Receiving Your Score
You will receive a score between 120 and 180, and your LSAT results will be mailed to you about three weeks after you take the test. Examples of average LSAT scores accepted by Tennessee law schools include:
University of Memphis: 152
University of Tennessee College of Law: 158
Vanderbilt University Law School: 166
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Step 3Go to Law School in Tennessee
Featured Law School:
University of Dayton LogoUniversity of Dayton
Featured Program: Online Hybrid Juris Doctor: ABA-approved JD program; Prepare to sit for the bar exam in most states; Semester-long legal externship.
You must now apply to an ABA-accredited law school or the one non-ABA accredited in-state school currently approved by the Board. Tennessee’s Board-approved and ADA-accredited law schools are:
Belmont University College of Law, 1900 Belmont Blvd, Nashville, TN 37212 (ABA-accredited)
Nashville School of Law, 4013 Armory Oaks Drive, Nashville, TN 37204 (not currently ABA-accredited, but approved by the Board)
Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law, 601 W Summit Hill Dr, Knoxville, TN 37902 (ABA accredited)
University of Memphis-Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, One North Front Street, Memphis, TN 38103-2189 (ABA accredited)
University of Tennessee College of Law, 1505 W. Cumberland Avenue, Suite 161, Knoxville, TN 37996 (ABA accredited)
Vanderbilt University Law School, 131 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203 (ABA accredited)
Additionally, a complete list of over 200 ABA-accredited law schools throughout the country is available in the American Bar Association’s List of ABA-Approved Law Schools.
Credential Assembly Service
Most law schools require that you use the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) at the time you apply for enrollment. The CAS is a centralized database that streamlines the admissions process. You simply gather transcripts, letters of recommendation and the like, and have them sent to CAS. CAS will then compile necessary information into law school reports that they will distribute electronically to the law schools to which you choose to apply.
The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners has set forth certain requirements for approved law school programs.
No correspondence course will be accepted by the Board towards fulfilling your legal education requirement
Must include coursework on:
A lawyer’s professional responsibilities in representing clients, as an officer of the court, and as a public citizen
Property (real and personal)
Fundamental principles of private and public law
Nature, basis and role of the law and its institutions
Legal writing skills
Criminal law (substantive and procedural)
Legal analysis skills
Civil procedure (US and Tennessee)
Business organizations (agency, corporations, partnerships)
Trusts and estates
Oral and written communications
Domestic relations/personal status
Constitutional law (US and Tennessee)
Restitution and remedies
Conflicts of law
Must include at least one rigorous writing experience
Online Law Degrees
View Online and Campus Law and Legal Studies Programs
(For students who choose to focus on a subset of law other than an attorney.)
Under Tennessee rules, if you have completed at least half of the credits required for law school graduation, you may, with the Tennessee Supreme Court’s written approval, provide legal services to and/or appear in court on behalf of any person or entity who cannot afford legal counsel; or on behalf of the state, municipal or county government. This must be as part of an internship/clinical program provided by your law school. You must be working in a legal aid program, serving as an assistant to a District Attorney, Public Defender, the State’s Attorney General, state agency counsel, or a county or municipal legal director’s office. You will be supervised by a member of the law school’s faculty as well as by a licensed lawyer on-site.
The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners requires that all lawyers in the state have a J.D. degree. You may opt to complete a dual degree program (JD and something else) or a concentration within your JD degree. For example, joint degree programs at Vanderbilt University include:
JD/MBA (Master of Business Administration)
JD/MPP (Master of Public Policy, Education Policy)
JD/PhD (Law and Economics)
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Step 4Take and Pass the Tennessee State Bar Exam
Once you have completed the first three steps, you are set to apply to take the Tennessee bar exam. It is administered in February and July. Final deadlines to submit application and information for the February exam are Dec. 20; and for the July exam, May 20.
Foreign Law School Graduates
Graduates of foreign law schools may apply to take Tennessee’s bar exam. However, your total education must be found by the Board to be substantially equivalent to that of an ABA/Tennessee-approved law school. Your credits must be evaluated on a course-by-course basis by a Credential Evaluation Service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services.
Non-ABA-approved law school graduates
If you graduated from a law school not approved by the ABA, you must be able to prove to the Board that your undergraduate and law school education are equivalent to that required by the Board.
You can find free study preparation material for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which has been adopted by the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, and consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website. Other resources to help you prepare to take the Tennessee bar exam include:
Barbri Tennessee UBE Bar Review Course, online, classroom, and hybrid
Tennessee Bar Exam Outlines and Lectures 2015, baroutlines, online
Tennessee Uniform Bar Exam Review Course, BarMax, online
Bar Exam content
The Tennessee bar exam is a two-day affair. You will take the six-hour, 200-question multiple choice MBE, the two 90-minute skills-based MPT exams, and answer six 30-minute essay questions on the MEE. Subjects that are covered on the UBE include:
Business associations and organizations
Conflict of laws
Criminal law and procedure
Remedies and restitution
Wills and estates
Legal analysis and reasoning
Recognizing/resolving ethical dilemmas
First, you must create a secure NCBE number account at ncbex.org. Complete the NCBE Character and Fitness application at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website. Follow the directions on the website in submitting the application and necessary attachments, as well as payment, to the NCBE.
Next, create a Synergy account with the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. Complete the new user registration and submit the application online. After receiving a confirmation email, you may access the Application for First Time Examination online. Complete and submit this online.
Then, return to the Synergy dashboard and click the “details” link. Here, you will be told what required documents you must upload and which you must mail to the TBLE. Necessary documentation includes:
Online application for first time applicants
Upload PDF file of NCBE application completed online
Current, color passport-sized .jpg photo uploaded online
Upload your current resume in PDF format
Have undergraduate transcripts mailed from your school directly to TBLE
Have all law schools you attended mail a Completed Law Degree Verification and Certificate of Dean of Law School form directly to TBLE
If you attended a non-ABA approved law school, have the disclosure form mailed to TBLE
If you are licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction, upload in PDF format certificates of admission and of good standing
If you received foreign legal education, have equivalency evaluation and/or Affidavit of Practice in Foreign Country mailed to TBLE
Submit $575 application fee payable to TBLE via check or money order only. Mail to TBLE, 511 Union St, Suite 525, Nashville, TN 37219. Note your name and NCBE number on the check.
The Tennessee bar exam is graded as follows:
MPT: makes up 12.5 % of your total grade
Essays: 37.5 %
It usually takes about six weeks to receive results back from the February bar exam in Tennessee, and nine weeks for the July exam. Results will be mailed to you.
Previous Tennessee bar exam pass rates (as published by Adaptibar) are as follows:
2002: 67% of all test-takers passed
Tennessee Law Course
The Tennessee Supreme Court recently adopted a rule requiring that all bar applicants must complete a Tennessee Law Course prior to being admitted to the bar of Tennessee. This course is administered by the TBLE and is offered online. The Tennessee Law Course must be completed within one year of passing the bar exam.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
Within 2 years of taking your first Tennessee bar exam, you must take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) with a scaled score of at least 82. You may apply online to take this test, offered four times per year at these Tennessee locations:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
University of Memphis
Middle Tennessee State University
Admission on Motion
The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners may admit you to the bar without examination (that is, admission on motion) if you are already a licensed attorney in another state or US jurisdiction. You must:
Meet the state’s educational requirements
Have actively practiced law in the state in which you are a bar member for five of the past seven years
Show that you have knowledge, skills and basic competence
Have passed the bar exam in another state equivalent to Tennessee
Have a certificate of good standing from every state in which you have been a bar member
Registration of In-House Counsel
You may be registered with the Board as in-house counsel if you meet the following qualifications:
Have been admitted to the bar of another US jurisdiction
Maintain an continuous presence there
Are employed as a lawyer by an organization that does not provide legal services
Are in good standing in all jurisdictions in which you are a bar member
As registered in-house counsel, you may provide legal services to your business entity client or its organizational affiliates, only on matters directly related to their work for the entity. You may not appear before a Tennessee court, provide legal services in any other capacity, or hold yourself out to be licensed to practice law in Tennessee. You may, however, provide pro bono legal services through an established non-profit or pro bono legal services program.
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Step 5You’ve Been Admitted to the Tennessee Bar
Congratulations – you have finally achieved your goal of becoming a licensed Tennessee lawyer and member of the state’s bar! You are automatically a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division (YLD), made up of lawyers under age 36 or with five or less years of experience. This group, and the Bar Association as a whole, can assist you in getting started out with your own solo legal practice, finding work with an existing practice, or finding legal jobs in business or organizations.
There are numerous Fortune 500 companies making their homes in Tennessee, and they often need legal help. Some of these include FedEx in Memphis, International Paper in Memphis, HCA Holdings in Nashville, Eastman Chemical in Kingsport, Community Health Systems in Franklin, and Dollar General in Goodlettsville.
Existing law firms across Tennessee that may be hiring new attorneys include corporate lawyers Bone McAllester Norton PLLC in Nashville; general practice firm Batson Nolan PLC in Springfield; employment law lawyers Kramer & Crone Attorneys at Law in Memphis; personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan in Memphis; and business law firm Bond, Botes & Lawson, P.C. in Chattanooga.
Legal specialty certification
The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education does not test applicants for certification to become legal specialists in any certain area. It does, however, recognize certifications provided by other approved organizations, such as:
National Elder Law Foundation:
Certified Elder Law Attorney
American Board of Certification:
Consumer & Business Bankruptcy
National Board of Legal Specialty Certification:
Social Security Disability
American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys:
National College for DUI Defense:
National Association of Counsel for Children:
National Board of Trial Advocacy:
Civil & Criminal Trial Law
Civil Pretrial Practice Law
Social Security Disability Law
Requirements for maintaining license
Under Tennessee rules, lawyers must complete 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) annually, plus three hours of ethics. More information is available through the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education.
Court Systems in Tennessee
Tennessee’s Court System is structured in the following way:
Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction: also called local courts, as they are funded at the local level
Courts of General Sessions: exist in all 95 counties in Tennessee, handle preliminary matters in major criminal cases and may try minor criminal and civil matters
Juvenile Courts: exist in 17 of the state’s 31 judicial districts, exclusive jurisdiction over delinquent, neglected, unruly and dependent minors
Municipal Courts: have geographical jurisdiction within their own cities, exist in about 300 Tennessee cities, deal with municipal ordinance violations such as parking or traffic
Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction:
Circuit Courts: courts of general jurisdiction that hear civil and criminal cases, also hear appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction, exist in all 31 judicial districts in Tennessee
Chancery Courts: exist in all 31 judicial districts across the state, conduct civil jury trials
Criminal Courts: exist in 13 of Tennessee’s 31 judicial districts where the criminal caseload for Circuit Courts is heaviest
Intermediate Appellate Courts:
The Court of Appeals: hears appeals of civil cases from lower courts. Meets in Knoxville, Jackson and Nashville.
Court of Criminal Appeals: hears appeals of criminal cases, habeas corpus and Post-Conviction Procedure Act proceedings, civil or criminal contempt from a criminal matter; and extradition cases. Meets in Knoxville, Jackson and Nashville.
Tennessee Supreme Court: the highest court in Tennessee, hears direct appeals involving state taxes, constitutionality of laws, and right to hold/retain public office. Meets in Knoxville, Nashville and Jackson.
Elective membership organizations
Consider joining a Tennessee organization made up of lawyers within your practice specialty, demographic or interest, such as:
Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association
Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association
Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women
East Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women
Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers
The Pre-Law concentration under the Political Science major is designed for students planning to attend law school or become a professional legal assistant. MTSU’s Pre-Law program begins with a basic study of government and encompasses courses in speech, logic, economics, and legal research and writing. Law careers see continued growth due to the complexity of the legal system and people’s tendency to seek legal remedies for problems.
What We’re Doing
State your case with competition teams
State your case with competition teams
MTSU students get experience in courtroom cases, appellate Supreme Court arguments, or mediation of disputes through national and regional competition with award-winning Mock Trial, Moot Court, and Mock Mediation teams. The Mock Trial team regularly places in the nation’s top 10.
Get first-hand experience in the law
Get first-hand experience in the law
To gain a realistic idea of what lawyers do, Pre-Law majors work with individual law firms for a semester their senior year. Students get credit in the internship program run in cooperation with the Bar Association of Rutherford and Cannon counties.
How does one begin to prepare for a life in law? Preparing as an undergraduate can mean different things for different students. There is no required major, or course of study, that will best prepare you for success in law school or as a practicing attorney. But a judicious approach to the study of law now can provide experiences and build skills that are valued both in law students and attorneys: clear and persuasive communication, both in writing and in oral argument; strong analytical reading and writing skills; pragmatic and purposeful problem-solving; coalition building and leadership.
The information provided via links above can be a prudent starting point for thoughtful law school preparation. However, these are only guideposts and suggestions, not a required curriculum. Law Schools actually prefer to admit and teach students who bring with them a truly interdisciplinary skill set. Perhaps, most importantly, most of the application process depends on YOU: majoring in a subject you love to read, write and talk about; taking courses that best suit you and your goals; creating experiences in and out of the classroom that will prepare you for a life in law; and of course, achieving your best GPA and doing well on Law School entrance exams such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or GRE.
The links above and to the right are intended to provide helpful information to consider when exploring a legal career and applying to Law School. It is also strongly recommended that you make an appointment with Vanderbilt’s pre-law advisers, Professor Carrie Russell, JD, PhD (via Calendly) or Alex Rizzutto (via DoreWays), for individually tailored assistance.
Sign up for the Pre-Law listserv and join the Vanderbilt Pre-Law LinkedIn Group to receive the most up-to-date information about Vanderbilt’s pre-law program and connect with alumni.
Send email with PRELAW in subject line to [email protected].
You may also visit list.vanderbilt.edu and search archives; go to page 20; and scroll to PRELAW.
You can join the Vanderbilt Pre-Law LinkedIn group by clicking here.
Meet the Pre-Law Advising Team
Dr. Carrie Archie Russell, Director of Pre-Law Advising
Carrie Russell earned her bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and her PhD from Vanderbilt University. She has served Vanderbilt in the roles of Program Director for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Pre-major Academic Adviser for the College of Arts and Science and is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Political Science. Carrie serves as a Vanderbilt Visions leader, faculty adviser for the Undergraduate Political Science Association and the Vanderbilt pre-law society and teaches Public Law and Public Policy courses as a Senior Lecturer. Before earning her PhD from Vanderbilt, Carrie worked as a Judicial Clerk for Davidson County Tennessee’s Twentieth Judicial District
Mr. Alex Rizzutto, Pre-Law Adviser
Alex Rizzutto earned his bachelor’s degree in English: Professional Writing and his master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. He has served Vanderbilt in the roles of Career Coach and Employer Outreach Specialist for the Vanderbilt University Career Center.