“This is a critical and necessary step to protect the integrity of the licensing process and the reputation of uninvolved applicants,” said Diana Miles, CEO of the professional regulatory firm.
The Ontario Bar exams scheduled for this month have been canceled as the Law Society of Ontario investigates the possibility that exam materials were leaked in advance.
The bar said in a press release on Saturday that it had decided to cancel the attorney and barrister exams that were to be written online from March 8-11 and March 22-25 “to protect the public and integrity of its licensing process”.
“We appreciate this decision is a news shocker for applicants who are not involved in inappropriate conduct,” said Diana Miles, CEO of the professional regulation firm, in a written statement.
“However, this is a critical and necessary step to protect the integrity of the licensing process and the reputation of uninvolved applicants.”
The bar said it had information that some people may have accessed the exam content. Evidence suggests “potential third-party involvement” in the leak, the statement said.
About 1,100 candidates were due to take exams during the relevant period, starting on Tuesday.
The exams will be rescheduled as soon as possible, the bar said, with further information to come via candidates’ online accounts.
A survey by external investigators into the matter will also review candidates who have recently taken exams.
The bar said it has informed some candidates who would have been eligible for licensure that they cannot be called to the bar while their exam assessments are pending.
Other candidates who would soon have been eligible to take licensing exams were also told that their previous licensing exams were also being assessed, the bar association said.
“At this time, no inference should be drawn from a delay in obtaining a candidate’s license,” the Law Society said.
“The next steps will be informed by the results of the investigation.”
Rami Aziz said he discovered in a Saturday afternoon email that his bar exam, scheduled for March 22, had been cancelled.
He said he understood the seriousness of the situation, but the uncertain timeline for the rescheduling threw his career plans over the next few months into limbo.
“I need to know what my next step is,” he said by phone from Toronto.
After the lawyer’s exam, Aziz had planned to take the lawyer’s exam in June and begin his internship in July.
He plans to continue studying while waiting for answers, but he said a long rescheduling delay could force him to push back his other plans, which would be a major setback after years of paying for his studies.
“I was looking forward to the day when I would start working so that I could start improving my financial situation,” he said. “A two or three month delay is a lot in my current debt situation.”
Lawyer Navdeep Gul Virk teaches students before their bar exams. She said eight of her students found out on Saturday that their upcoming exams had been cancelled.
“A lot of students had left work to focus on their exams,” she said over the phone. “They were hoping to be called to the bar soon and they were hoping to start the next chapter of their careers.”
She said it was a difficult decision to cancel the exams, but she believes in the leadership of the bar and the processes that respond to the situation.
The Law Students Society of Ontario, an advocacy group representing law students at Ontario law schools, responded to questions from affected candidates.
Ocean Enbar, chairman of the group, said some people are worried about the impact of the cancellation on their summer work plans, while others who have taken time off to study have no days left. vacation to be rescheduled. There are also concerns about fees paid before exams, he said, among other issues.
“Our priority now is to get answers,” Enbar said. “We are actively working with the LSO to ensure that the voices of these candidates are heard and that the LSO considers many of these concerns when preparing the next steps.”