Law Society of Ontario cancels upcoming bar exams over potential test material leak

The Law Society of Ontario has cancelled licensing exams scheduled for the next two weeks because test materials may have been leaked ahead of time.

Cancellation of online exams affects about 1,100 candidates, law society says

The Law Society of Ontario says exams will be rescheduled as soon as possible. (Belenos/Shutterstock)

Ontario bar exams scheduled for this month have been cancelled as the Law Society of Ontario investigates the possibility that test materials were leaked ahead of time.

The law society said in Saturday a news release that it decided to cancel barrister and solicitor examinations that were to be written from March 8 to 11 and March 22 to 25 "to protect the public and the integrity of its licensing process."

"We appreciate that this decision is upsetting news to those candidates not involved in improper conduct," Diana Miles, CEO of the professional regulatory society, said in a written statement.

"However, this is a critical and necessary step to protect the integrity of the licensing process and the reputation of those candidates not involved."

The law society said it had information indicating some people may have accessed exam content. Evidence suggests "potential involvement of third parties" in the leak, the statement said.

Approximately 1,100 candidates had been scheduled to write exams during the affected time period, starting on Tuesday.

Exams will be rescheduled as soon as possible, the law society said, with further information to come through candidates' online accounts.

Probe to look at candidates who recently wrote exams

A probe by external investigators into the matter will also review candidates who recently wrote exams.

The law society said it had informed some candidates who would have been eligible for licensure that they won't be eligible to be called to the bar while assessments of their exams are pending.

Other candidates who would soon have been eligible to take licensing exams have also been notified that their prior licensing exams are also being assessed, the law society said.

"At this point in time, no conclusions should be drawn from any delay in a candidate's licensure," the law society said.

"Next steps will be informed by the results of the investigation."

Lawyer says students left work to write exams

Lawyer Navdeep Gul Virk tutors students ahead of their bar exams. She said eight of her students found out on Saturday that their upcoming exams were cancelled.

"Many students had left their work to focus on their exam," she said by phone. "They were hoping to be called to the bar soon and they were hoping to start their next chapter in their careers."

She said it was a tough decision to cancel the exams but she believes in the law society's leadership and processes responding to the situation.