The body that regulates lawyers in Ontario has notified suspected bar exam cheaters that they are under investigation but is offering no details on how many individuals have been contacted or how the cheating may have taken place.
“Information concerning investigations about specific individuals by the Law Society of Ontario are confidential, until or unless they result in regulatory proceedings, which would be public,” the Law Society of Ontario said in a statement released Wednesday night.
Last month, the LSO announced it was suspending bar exams after receiving information that “strongly indicates” portions of it had been leaked to prospective lawyers. At the time the LSO said it was also looking into whether some already-licensed lawyers had cheated.
A team of “external investigators” — the LSO won’t say who they are — is looking into tests conducted online since the pandemic hit in 2020.
The LSO statement said “there are strong indications that examination content has been improperly accessed through cheating.” The LSO reiterated that it believes third parties were involved.
“This week, the external investigation team hired by the Law Society issued letters to individuals who may be involved in the cheating scenario. Those impacted have been advised that they will be subject to investigation through the regulatory process as a result of conduct related to the licensing examinations,” the release said.
“The letters also request that all documentation and information relevant to the investigation be provided to investigators. This is an important step that allows us to advance the investigative process.”
The LSO’s media relations spokeswoman did not immediately return requests for comment.
After initially suspending the exams, the LSO announced earlier this month that they will be delivered this year but only in person, “to ensure examination integrity and to protect the reputation of all those candidates who are in no way implicated in the investigation.”
More than 1,000 candidates were set to take the exams during two weeks in March before the LSO announced they were cancelled on March 5. The exams have now been rescheduled for April.
The breach also affects candidates who had already written the exam. The LSO noted that some candidates who passed the exam and were eligible to be called to the bar are now under review; the LSO said last month that those candidates’ eligibility was on hold pending an investigation.
Correction — April 14, 2022: This story has been edited to correct that the March bar exam have been rescheduled to April.
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