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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.

Apply Now!

Applications the 2021 Diversity Leadership Institute Class are due by 5 p.m Central time on November 30, 2020. 


2021 Class Information

Program Schedule

The 2021 Diversity Leadership Institute program (“DLI”) will begin with an opening retreat in January. Attendance is required. 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 State High School Mock Trial Competition in March of 2021. Details are coming. Again, attendance is required. *If selected for the program and taking the MPRE in March, you agree to register for a testing location in Nashville and take the test Saturday morning after attending the DLI programming on Friday.
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 meetings during the six-month program.

                         **Potential conflict with MPRE test date.  If selected for the program and taking the MPRE in March, you agree to register for a testing location in Nashville and take the test Saturday morning after attending the DLI programming on Friday.

  • 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. 30.
  • Applications should be submitted to YLD Diversity Committee Chair, Billy Leslie, via email or mail as follows:
Billy Leslie
  • The Selection Committee will notify candidates of its decision by mid-December.

Key Program Dates **TBD

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

November 30, 2020 Student applications due by 5 p.m. Central Time
Mid-December 2020 Successful applicants notified of acceptance
January 2021 Opening Retreat  (mandatory)
March 20-21, 2021 Second Session (mandatory)
June 30, 2021 All CLE and mentor requirements completed
June 14-15, 2021 Final session, service project and graduation in Nashville (mandatory)