March bar exam cancelled on potential test leak

(Courtesy of Andy Barbour, Pexels)

On March 5, 2022, The Law Society of Ontario announced the cancellation of the barrister and solicitor examinations set from March 8 to 11, and March 22 to 25, on the possibility of a test material leak. 

Wynna Brown, director of External Relations and Communications, directs Excalibur to CEO Diana Miles’ comment in the news release.

“We appreciate that this decision is upsetting news to those candidates not involved in improper conduct,” reads the statement by Miles. “However, this is a critical and necessary step to protect the integrity of the licensing process and the reputation of those candidates not involved. Most importantly, as the regulator of the legal professions it is incumbent upon us to take immediate action to protect the public interest.”

A lawyer and Founder of Ontario Bar Exam Coach, Piper Riley Thompson, shares that they deeply empathize with what the licensing candidates are going through.

“The cancellation of the online exams and subsequent rescheduling of in-person examinations has devastating personal, professional, and economic impacts on candidates.”

Riley Thompson further shares how international candidates and those from other provinces will be heavily affected. “For candidates writing both the barrister and solicitor exams, that would require a three-week stay in Toronto or two separate trips two weeks apart. And worse yet, the severe mental anguish all of these sudden changes has had on candidates, who are already under immense stress and pressure, cannot be quantified.”

Lawyer and bar exam coach Navdeep Virk explains that they had students who are now very affected by this event, and it was through them that they came to realize the exams were cancelled. 

“Nobody is immune these days from any problem — we can’t even think how things happen in the dark web. This is an institution that I am a proud member of, and I’ve seen them be very accommodating all the time. We should not worry much, and there should be a solution soon for the students and in the future, students should not get discouraged over something that has happened. They should keep themselves motivated,” Virk says.

“In my opinion, it should not have any ripple effect. We should just see this thing as one incident, and there should be a solution for it.” 

Osgoode Hall Law School Professor and Chair of Faculty Council, Trevor Farrow, explains the magnitude of the situation. 

“To me there are several perspectives from which to look at this problem. From the perspective of the students who were about to write their exams, the impact is huge. It’s a stressful time, many people have jobs lined up that are depending on successful completion of the bar exams,” says Farrow.

“I really hope that the entire community is accommodating of this pause — there needs to be a collaborative approach to this. It can’t be simply The Law Society or the students bearing this — the entire legal community needs to rally behind this,” Farrow continues.

Professor Farrow touches on a very crucial point regarding academic integrity and student pressure, and that the Law Society is not insulated from the challenges of academic dishonesty.

“I think it points to the pressure students are under — it points to the challenges around privacy and I think this points to the future of examinations. Finding ways to examine that are not trying to fight up river. Creating exams where it can be open-book, to the extent it can be credit or no credit. To the extent we can reduce stress as opposed to raising stress. These are things to think about.”

About the Author

By Jannat Yaqobi

Assistant News Editor

Jannat is a first year Criminology student at York. Along with being part of Excalibur, she is also part of the Criminology Society, SCOLAPS, and the YFS. She has a passion for reading, writing (particularly spoken word and slam), photography, and watching classic and vintage movies. Apart from juggling her busy (and at times hectic) schedule, one can occasionally find Jannat journaling, graphic designing, or watching Golden Girls with her mom or Friends with a cup of black tea.


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