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Paralegal Licensing Examination FAQs

Summer Licensing Examinations

Question: Why are the examinations being held in person?

Answer:  The change in the delivery method of examinations, from online to in-person, stems from the ongoing investigation into licensing candidates that strongly indicates that examination content has been improperly accessed through cheating, in contravention of the Examination Rules and Protocols and compromising the integrity of the upcoming examination period. Evidence indicates the potential involvement of third parties in this activity.

This information came to the Law Society’s attention in early March 2022.

The Law Society has a statutory mandate to ensure entry-level competence in the public interest. Continuing with an online delivery in light of this information and the ongoing investigation was not possible.

The Law Society must ensure that upcoming examinations support a valid and defensible assessment process that will support the licensure efforts of the many candidates who are not under investigation and have not engaged in cheating.

In the current circumstances, in-person delivery provides the necessary degree of security to ensure examination integrity and to protect the reputation of all those candidates who are in no way implicated in the investigation.

The Law Society recognizes the challenging impacts on candidates not involved in the investigation; our efforts are focused on delivering a plan that allows those candidates not implicated to proceed with licensure as quickly as possible, in a defensible manner, in the public interest.

The Law Society is also actively examining alternative delivery modalities beyond the 2022-2023 licensing cycle. The Law Society will continue informing candidates of new information as it becomes available.

Question: Why can’t the examinations be administered individually or in smaller settings?

Answer:  Licensing exams are important tools in assessing the entry-level competence of candidates. In order to ensure the integrity of the licensing examinations, the examinations must be administered in standardized and secure venues by individuals who are specially trained in examination protocols, rules and security. These measures ensure the validity and defensibility of the examinations, so that the Law Society can guarantee that the examinations are an accurate measure of the entry-level competencies required for licensure.

Question: Why isn’t the Law Society providing more information about the investigation?

Answer: An active investigation is underway into licensing candidates who may have improperly accessed examination content through cheating in contravention of the Examination Rules and Protocols and compromising the integrity of the upcoming examination period. This process is being led by a team of external investigators and is focused on protecting the public and the integrity of the licensing process.

To protect the integrity of the investigative process, we cannot provide specific information about the ongoing investigation into examinations, at this time.

We can say that the investigation is complex and that the Law Society is committed to ensuring a process that that is fair, just and in the public interest; updates will be provided as available.

Question: What accommodations are available to candidates?

Answer: The Law Society provides accommodation for the licensing examinations to candidates based on grounds listed in the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19.

As the governing body of professions concerned with justice, the Law Society has a strong public interest in promoting equality. The legal approach to equality recognizes that treating people identically is not synonymous with treating them equally.

Each accommodation request is reviewed on an individual basis and assessed based on the unique circumstances of the individual making the request. Accommodation coordinators in the Law Society’s Examination Administration team are dedicated to managing accommodation requests and delivering examinations with accommodations.

Candidates seeking accommodation should review the Law Society’s Policy and Procedures for Accommodations or contact the Examination Administration staff at examinationaccommodation@lso.ca.

Question: I am concerned about my mental heath; what supports are available to me?

Answer: We recognize the stress and challenging impacts that the change in examination dates and the move to an in-person format may cause for many candidates. The Law Society has taken steps to try to alleviate some of the challenges faced by licensing candidates by extending the deadline for examination deferrals and providing financial assistance through the Repayable Allowance Program. The Law Society will continue to offer accommodations on the established examination dates for the grounds outlined in the Human Rights Code.

All candidates have access to the Member Assistance Program which provides free, confidential access to counselling, coaching, online resources and peer volunteers. Through the program you can get professional help with issues related to addictions, mental or physical health, work-life balance, career, family and more. Anyone who needs help is encouraged to reach out to the Member Assistance Program.

If you need to defer your licensing examination, Licensing and Accreditation team members will also work with you to explore your options.

Question: I am worried about exposure to COVID-19 at an in-person examination sitting. What provisions are in place?

Answer: COVID-19 protocols are currently in place for all in-person examinations. Among other safety measures, masks must be worn at any time you get up from your assigned seat in the examination centre. Seating for candidates follows all physical distancing guidelines.

Question: Why is a licensing examination necessary?

Answer: Each law society operates under its own provincial or territorial legislation. While some jurisdictions may require candidates to take a pre-licensure course that contains several assessments, other jurisdictions, like Ontario, require candidates to successfully complete one or two longer examinations to assess competence. Having a standardized assessment allows the Law Society to ensure that all candidates can demonstrate the minimum level of competence required of an entry-level licensee. The licensing examinations focus on those competencies that have the most direct impact on the protection of the public and on effective and ethical practice. The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest and one aspect of fulfilling that duty is ensuring that all candidates who are licensed have demonstrated entry-level competence.


COVID-19

Question: What precautions is the Law Society is taking with respect to COVID-19 for the in-person examinations and what am I expected to do?

Answer: The COVID-19 protocols are set out in the Rules and Protocol applicable to in-person licensing examinations. Candidates should note the following:

  • Candidates are expected to review the COVID-19 screening questions outlined at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment
  • Candidates are expected to stay home on the day of their licensing examination if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, even if the symptoms are mild, or if they answer “yes” to any of the COVID-19 screening questions outlined at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment. Candidates who have symptoms should send a message through their online account and submit a Request for Examination Registration or Deferment form. In such cases, the licensing examination fee will be applied to the next attempt at the licensing examination.
  • Candidates who have a pre-existing medical condition (not COVID-19) that produces symptoms that may occur at the examination site that are similar to those associated with COVID-19 should obtain a note from their doctor confirming the presence of such a condition and should be prepared to submit such note for review at the examination site. Please note that disclosure of a specific medical diagnosis is not required.
  • If it appears to the Law Society that a candidate has symptoms of COVID-19, the Law Society may require that the candidate leave the examination site, in which case the candidate will be permitted to defer the licensing examination to a future sitting. The Law Society may also consider potential alternatives.
  • Candidates are required to wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose at all times while at the examination site except (i) when asked by a proctor to pull down or remove the mask for identification and security purposes or (ii) when both seated and writing the licensing examination.
  • Candidates who get up to use the restroom during the licensing examination must wear a mask on the way to and from the restroom and in the restroom.
  • Candidates who seek to communicate with a proctor during the licensing examination must put their mask on prior to or upon raising their hand and keep the mask on while communicating with the proctor.
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to sit the licensing examinations.
  • Proctors will be behind plexiglass at the registration and screening areas, where possible.
  • Where possible, candidates must stay two metres apart.
  • Candidates will be seated approximately two metres apart.

Candidates who are unable or unwilling to be with other people in a room may defer their licensing examination.

The above protocols may be updated. If there are any changes to these protocols, candidates will be notified.
 

Updated April 13, 2022

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