Diversity Leadership Institute 2020

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division's Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) is a six-month leadership and mentoring program for Tennessee law students in their second, third or fourth years of study. Now in its ninth year, the program is designed to:

  • Develop skills to succeed as a law student and attorney;
  • Empower students to contribute more to the legal community;
  • Match students to mentors in a diverse variety of practice areas; and
  • Build relationships among students of diverse backgrounds

Class size is limited to a total of 20 students selected from across the state. The goal of the program is to have a diverse class, so selection is based in part on race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, background, geographical factors and law schools attended. To learn more about how to apply to the program download the Application Instructions.

Applications the 2020 Diversity Leadership Institute Class are due by 5 p.m Central time on November 15, 2019.

Download the application here. Keep reading below for more information!

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2020 Class Information

Program Schedule

The 2020 Diversity Leadership Institute program (“DLI”) will begin with an opening retreat January 25-26, 2020 in Memphis. Attendance is required, but double occupancy hotel accommodations and mileage reimbursement will be provided for participants living outside of Memphis. At the retreat, participants will get to know fellow class members, be introduced to leadership and diversity concepts to be explored throughout the program and have the opportunity to network with Tennessee lawyers and TBA Leadership.  
Class members also will meet during the TBA Leadership Conference April 3-4, 2020, in Nashville. Again, attendance is required, but double occupancy hotel accommodations and mileage reimbursements will be provided for those who live outside the Nashville area. *If selected for the program and taking the MPRE, you agree to register for a testing location in Nashville and take the test Saturday morning after attending the DLI programming on Friday.
The DLI program will conclude with a final session, service project and graduation ceremony June 19-20, 2020, during the TBA Annual Convention in Knoxville. Again, attendance is required, but double occupancy hotel accommodations and mileage reimbursements will be provided for those who live outside Nashville.
During the six-month leadership program, participants will be required to have two meetings with a selected or assigned mentor, complete at least one community service activity as a group and attend two continuing legal education seminars, at least one of which should focus on a topic related to diversity. To help participants meet these requirements — and network with practicing lawyers in their local area — class members will be invited to attend public service projects, educational seminars and membership events planned by the TBA YLD. Participants also are encouraged to get involved in activities sponsored by their local bar associations as a way to meet these requirements.


  • Applicants must be enrolled in a Tennessee law school, and must be in their second, third or fourth years of study.
  • Applicants must be (or become) TBA law student members prior to Opening Session. Students interested in applying for the program who have not yet joined the TBA may do so online. Join here or learn more about the benefits of law student membership.

Program Requirements

  • Participants must attend three in-person meetings during the six-month program.

                  January 25-26, 2020, in Memphis (Guest House at Graceland)

                  April 3-4, 2020, in Nashville (The Loews Hotel)

                  June 19-20, 2020, in Knoxville (Holiday Inn World's Fair)              

  • Participants must attend 2 CLEs during the 6-month period (one related to diversity). TBA sponsored CLEs are free to TBA law student members. 
  • Participants must meet with their assigned mentor twice during the 6-month period. 
  • Participants must compete at least one community service activity. 

Submission Process

  • The deadline for applying is 5 p.m. Central time on Nov. 15.
  • Applications should be submitted to YLD Diversity Leadership Institute Coordinator, Billy Leslie via email or mail as follows:
Billy Leslie
Phone: 615-969-8865
  • The Selection Committee will notify candidates of its decision by mid-December.

Key Program Dates

The following timeline provides a summary of the program deadlines and other key dates for participating students:

November 15, 2019Student applications due by 5 p.m. Central Time
Mid-DecemberSuccessful applicants notified of acceptance
January 25-26, 2020Opening Retreat in Memphis (mandatory)
April 3-4, 2020TBA YLD Leadership in Nashville (mandatory)
June 19, 2020All CLE and mentor requirements completed
June 19-20, 2020Final session, service project and graduation in Knoxville (mandatory)


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DLI Classes

• DLI Class of 2019

• DLI Class of 2018

• DLI Class of 2016

• DLI Class of 2015

DLI Class of 2014

DLI Class of 2013

DLI Class of 2012

DLI Class of 2011

Contact Us

Questions or comments about this program? Feel free to contact the TBA YLD's Diversity Leadership Institute Coordinator:

Billy Leslie
Phone: 615-969-8865
Questions or comments about other law school services? Visit the TBA's law student resource page or contact the TBA YLD's New Attorney Liaison:
Cherrelle Hooper, New Attorney Liaison
phone: 615-741-2241