Re-scheduled Canadian Bar Exam to be Held Only in Person

After making a last-minute announcement that it was cancelling the upcoming online barrister and solicitor exam (Canada’s version of the U.S. bar exam) after discovering potential leaks, the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) has rescheduled the tests, which will now be administered in person in two administrations next month.

The LSO pulled the plug on the online exams just days before the first one was to take place, saying it had information that some exam questions had been leaked. More than 1,100 candidates were originally set to take the online exam, but will now have to write them on paper and in person only in Toronto.

The LSO now says its investigation shows there is evidence that third parties were involved and previous sittings of the exams, which went online in June 2020 due to COVID-19, may also have been compromised. Some candidates who wrote earlier exams are having their calls to the bar held pending the outcome of the full investigation.

The Toronto Star reported that online academic cheating is common and the leak of Ontario’s bar exam is just the most recent and visible example.

One exam candidate, who preferred not to use her name, told International that she is insulted that the LSO scheduled exams during Ramadan, which runs the full month of April. “The holy month for me is deeply important, it’s a very emotional thing to realize that the month will in large part be focused on study instead of faith,” she said. “I feel they would never do it during Christmas. It just makes me feel like Muslim licensees are of little consequence to the LSO.”

No mention of Ramadan was made in the initial announcement about the rescheduled exam, but later the Law Society tweeted, “Candidates may request an accommodation based on the observance of Ramadan or any of the grounds outlined in the Human Rights Code.”

There are now a number of petitions circulating that call for the LSO to allow either online or take-home exams.

Diana Miles, Chief Executive Officer of the LSO, said that the organization understands the new dates could create logistical issues. But reverting to the in-person, paper exam “is the most effective solution and balances the need for confidence in the examination process with the needs of candidates to continue their licensure journey.”

The LSO said the new exam sittings will include “heightened invigilation protocols and strengthened rules,” including COVID-19 protocols.

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