Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct

Follow the Development History of TRPC Since First Presented in 2000

 

Court Adopts First Major Amendments to Rules

The Tennessee Supreme Court today (Sept. 29, 2010) adopted the first set of comprehensive amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct since the new rules became effective in March 2003.

These amendments, to be effective Jan. 1, 2011, come as a result of a six-year revision process initiated by the Tennessee Bar Association, an extensive comment period and an oral argument in June 2010.

Revisions touch upon confidentiality, conflicts, client consent, advance payments of expenses, non-refundable fees, responsibilities of a prosecutor, receipt of inadvertently disclosed confidential information and advertising.

In adopting the rules, Chief Justice Connie Clark said, "We are grateful for the extraordinary efforts of the Tennessee Bar Association and various organizations, attorneys and individuals who submitted comments or participated in the oral argument regarding the proposed revisions."

Download (at right) complete copies of the amended rules, the orders adopting the changes and redlined versions of the revisions, comparing them to the previous rules and to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Tennessee Bar Association on Feb. 18, 2010, filed with the Tennessee Supreme Court its response to the public comments received regarding the Tennessee Bar Association's Petition for the Adoption of Amended Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.

That petition was filed with the Tennessee Supreme Court on May 13, 2009. The comprehensive set of amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct represents the first major amendment to the rules since they were adopted in 2002. The petition was approved by the TBA House of Delegates and Board of Governors at their April 2009 meetings.

The Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order on June 22, 2009, soliciting written comments from the bench, bar and public and any other interested parties regarding the petition. The deadline for written comments was Dec. 16, 2009. The Court issued an Order on January 8, 2010, providing the TBA until February 19, 2010, to file a response to the public comments received, indicating that the TBA could provide substantial assistance to the Court by “identifying the comments with which the TBA agrees, by suggesting modifications and refinements in response to the comments, and by identifying the areas about which the TBA and the commentors still have substantial disagreement.” In response to the public comments received, and in continuing support of the adoption of amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct, the TBA filed its response.


Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct Adopted in 2002

The adoption of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct in 2002 was the culmination of seven years of work on the revision of Tennessee's lawyer ethics rules led by the TBA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Hundreds of Tennessee attorneys and judges were involved in the process, offering comments, suggestions, and revisions and the Supreme Court spent almost two years soliciting and receiving comments, holding oral argument, and considering the proposed revisions.

Since that time, the TBA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has continued to review and offer amendments to the rules, with the support and cooperation of hundreds of lawyers and judges across Tennessee. Below is the record of those proposals and changes, beginning with the most recent.


Previous Filings


Here are the documents filed Feb. 18, 2010, in PDF format for review:

The response to Public Comments

Exhibit A: 47-page response to Public Comments and Revisions to TBA Proposal

Exhibit B: 182-page “clean version" showing how the new rules would look

Exhibit C: 206-page redline version comparing the proposal to the current rules

Exhibit D: 206-page comparison to the ABA model rule

The response, including all exhibits (663 pages)


Here are the documents filed May 13, 2009, in PDF format for review:


The petition, highlighting important changes

182-page "clean version" showing how the new rules would look

207-page redline version comparing the proposal to the current rules

205-page comparison to the ABA model rule

The petition, including all exhibits (619 pages)


The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued two orders soliciting comment on proposed amendments to the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The deadline for submitting written comments on the amendments is March 9, 2009.

Order seeking comment on proposed Amendment to Rule 7, Section 10.01 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Order seeking comment on proposed Amendment to Rule 8, Sections 5-5 and 8-5 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court


The TBA Board of Governors in June 2008 authorized release of a proposed set of refinements to the Rules of Professional Conduct for comment. The proposal is the first thorough examination of the rules since their adoption in March 2003 and represents a more than two-year effort by the Standing Committee on Ethics & Professional Responsibility.

The proposal suggests that changes be adopted in some 20 significant areas, including client consent, confidentiality, conflicts, client file, and material and public statements by prosecutors.

TBA President's Letter on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct (June 27, 2008, PDF file, 2 pages)


Chair's Memo on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct (June 3, 2008, PDF file, 4 pages)


Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct
(June 3, 2008, draft; redlined to current rules) (206 pages in PDF format)
Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct
(June 3, 2008, draft; redlined to current rules) (203 pages in Word format)


Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct
(June 3, 2008, draft; redlined to ABA Model Rules) (194 pages in PDF format)


TBA Petition for Pro Bono Rule Reform (including amendments to TRPC 6.1, 5.5 and 6.5; filed with Tennessee Supreme Court June 27, 2008)
Exhibit A — Rule 6.5
Exhibit B — Rule 5.5
Exhibit C — Rule 6.1


TBA Petition for MJP Rules Reform (including amendments to TRPC 5.5 and 8.5; filed with Tennessee Supreme Court June 27, 2008)


Court adopts amendments from TBA, Tennessee Bar Foundation


The Tennessee Supreme Court on May 14, 2003, granted the Tennessee Bar Foundation's petition for changes to Rule 43 concerning IOLTA. These changes take effect immediately.

The Tennessee Supreme Court on April 29, 2003, granted the TBA's petition for reconsideration on several issues relating to the new Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct. Included in the changes:

Secret Taping: The Supreme Court reversed direction on secret taping by lawyers, following the most recent guidance from the ABA in its Formal Opinion 01-422 (2001). That guidance says that there is nothing inherently deceitful or deceptive in a lawyer secretly taping another person, and that is does not violate Rule 8.4(c) to do so. This is the position the TBA took in its original petition seeking the adoption of the Rules.

Surveillance: In handling secret taping, the Court repealed language in the same Comment that led many to believe that ordinary surveillance would be unethical.

The "Not Certified" Practice-Area Disclaimer": The Supreme Court also reversed direction on practice-area disclaimers, deleting the requirement for the "not certified" disclaimers from Rule 7.4. The Court's original enactment of new Rule 7.4 carried forward the existing Tennessee disclaimer regime. The position now adopted by the Court, deleting the requirement of a "not certified" disclaimer whenever a practice area is mentioned, was the TBA position in its original petition to the Court seeking adoption of the new Rules.

Other changes: The Court also approved several other minor, technical amendments. On one issue — the restoration of a comment to Rule 4.1 on confidentiality — the Court thought that the proposal was substantive and asked for further briefing.

Order Amending Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, TRPC

Order Addressing Rule 4.1 on Confidentiality

Appendix to Court's Order Amending TRPC

Order Amending Rule 43 concerning IOLTA


2003 Supreme Court Order soliciting written comments on TBA Petition Filed Feb. 12, 2003


Tennessee Supreme Court adopts new Rules of Professional Conduct

On August 27, 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court approved new Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct (TRPC) for attorneys practicing in this state.

The new rules — amended slightly by the Court on Sept. 17 — went into effect March 1, 2003.

Orders implementing Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct

2002 Petition for Reconsideration or Clarification
Filed by Tennessee Bar Association concerning certain issues related to the adoption of Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct


TBA files petition with Tennessee Supreme Court

On October 9, 2000, after five years of study, consultation, and work, the Tennessee Bar Association filed with the Tennessee Supreme Court its petition seeking the adoption of a new, completely integrated set of lawyer ethics rules for Tennessee. These proposed rules are the product of the TBA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, formerly known as the Committee for the Study of Standards of Professional Conduct.

Since 1970, the conduct of Tennessee lawyers had been governed by ethics rules patterned after the 1969 American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility. The TBA’s proposed rules submitted now to the Supreme Court are patterned after the ABA’s 1983 Model Rules of Professional Conduct, versions of which have now been adopted in 44 American jurisdiction. The TBA’s proposed rules follow the ABA Model Rules, but include some modifications reflecting particular Tennessee practices, statutory law, and established decisions.

The TBA asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to publish its proposed rules to the bench, bar and public of Tennessee for a limited period to allow comment on them.

On April 18 and 26, 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered orders setting oral argument for June 6, 2002, before the Court on thirteen specific issues raised by particular comments to the TBA's petition.

The TBA's petition, supporting memorandum, and proposed rules are set forth below, as is a copy of the Tennessee Supreme Court's April 18, 2002, order and April 26, 2002, order.

TBA Petition for Adoption of Proposed Rules of Professional Conduct and Supporting Memorandum (filed October 9, 2000)

Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Petition for Adoption of Proposed Rules of Professional Conduct (filed December 3, 2001)

Proposed Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct [filed December 3, 2001; Exhibit A to Supplemental Memo; including Rules and Comments only]

Committee Draft of Proposed Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct [filed December 3, 2001; Exhibit B to Supplemental Memo; including Rules, Comments, and explanatory notes by Committee]

Revised Committee Draft Proposed Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct [filed December 3, 2001; Exhibit C to Supplemental Memo; showing changes in final December 2001 draft from October 2000 draft]

Tennessee Supreme Court seeks comments on proposed rules

On November 28, 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order on the TBA's Petition, seeking comments from the bench, bar and public on the proposed rules by April 30, 2001.

On April 27, 2001, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order extending this comment deadline from April 30, 2001, to June 30, 2001.

On April 18, 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an order setting oral argument for June 6, 2002, before the Court on twelve specific issues raised by particular comments to the TBA's petition.

On April 26, 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a further order concerning the issues to be addressed in oral argument.


Order New Ethics Book Now

Printed copies of the 2012 rules booklet are now. You can order your copy online now or by calling the Tennessee Bar Association at (615) 383-7421.

Access New Ethics Rules Online

Clean copies of amended Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, effective January 1, 2011, as amended September 29 and October 21, 2010.

2012 TRPC (Am 9-29-10 and 10-12-10).doc (Word Format)

2012 TRPC (Am 9-29-10 and 10-12-10).pdf (PDF Format)


The full text of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Orders of September 29 and October 12, 2010, amending the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.

• TSC Order Adopting New TRPC 09-29-10 (Incl Appendix).pdf

• TSC Order Adopting New TRPC 09-29-10 (Incl Appendix).doc

• TSC Order Amending New TRPC 116 10-12-10.pdf

• TSC Order Amending New TRPC 116 10-12-10.doc


Redlined version of the revisions, comparing the new Rules to the prior Tennessee Rules and showing clearly what has changes, word for word, in every Rule and Comment.

Redline New 2011 TRPC to Current TRPC.pdf


Redlined version of the new Rules, showing precisely how the new Rules differ from the current ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

Redline New 2011 TRPC to Current ABA MRPC.pdf