Tennessee House Counsel

Rule 7, Article X, Section 10.01 of the Tennessee Supreme Court Rules allows attorneys employed by a business organization and having a continuous presence in Tennessee to register as in-house counsel. Tennessee’s house counsel rules derive their authority from Tennessee’s Multijurisdictional Practice Rules (MJP), which is Rule 5.5(d)(1) of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.

Attorneys must be employed pursuant to MJP 5.5(d)(1), which allows attorneys to practice law in Tennessee on behalf of the attorney’s employer. Attorneys must register within 180 days of the commencement of employment. Attorneys who comply with the requirements of the MJP and in-house rules on or before June 30, 2010 will not be barred from in-house registration, or from practicing under the authority of MJP 5.5(d)(l), solely by the fact of prior noncompliance with Tennessee law concerning licensure of in-house attorneys.

In-house attorneys have the same rights and privileges as members of the Tennessee Bar but with some restrictions. In-house attorney are authorized to provide legal services to the business entity or its organizational affiliates. This includes entities that control, are controlled by, or are under common control with the employer. In-house attorneys may also provide legal services for employees, officers, and directors of such entities, but only on matters directly related to their work for the entity and only to the extent consistent with rules of professional conduct relating to conflicts (RPC 1.7).

In-house attorneys cannot appear before a court or any other tribunal and cannot hold him or herself out as being authorized to practice law in Tennessee. Attorneys may provide pro bono legal services through an established non-profit bar association, pro bono program, legal services program, or another program specifically authorized.

In-house attorneys are subject to Rules of Professional Conduct and all other laws and rules governing lawyers admitted to the Tennessee Bar. In-house attorneys are required to pay the annual fees payable to active members of the Bar and fulfill the applicable CLE requirements.

Attorneys failing to register are subject to professional discipline, will be ineligible for admission via the Tennessee Admission on Motion Rules, referred to the Board of Professional Responsibility, and referred to the disciplinary authority of the attorney’s licensed jurisdiction.

Application and Certification
In-house attorneys must submit an Application with the Board of Law Examiners.

The registration automatically terminates when:

  • The lawyer’s employment ceases.
  • The lawyer is suspended or disbarred from practice in any jurisdiction or any count or agency where the lawyer is admitted.
  • The lawyer fails to maintain active status in at least one jurisdiction.

In-house attorneys may be reinstated within 180 days of termination after submitting to the Board the following:

  • An application for reinstatement.
  • A new employer affidavit.
  • The reinstatement fee.

In-house attorneys must report within 30 days the following:

  • Termination of the lawyer’s employment.
  • Whether or not public, any change in the lawyer’s license status in another jurisdiction, including by the lawyer’s resignation.
  • Whether or not public, any disciplinary charge, finding, or sanction concerning the lawyer by any disciplinary authority, court, or other tribunal in any jurisdiction.