Crime and Court news

The disaster of the Italian Bar examination

The District Attorney’s Office of Lucca fined 103 former candidates for cheating at the Bar examination in 2012. The defendants had downloaded the solutions of the written part of the examination from the Net, and this had been noticed by the Examination Committee simply because so many answers to open questions were similar.

The episode, however, only highlights the serious shortcomings of the examination. In Italy, everyone with a secondary education degree can enroll at a School of Law. Despite a decrease in the number of law students, thousands of people get a law degree every year, and almost all of them try the Bar examination.

The examination is organized on a regional basis, thus thousands of candidates will sit it the same day, making almost impossible for the invigilators to maintain a semblance of order. Everyone can cheat, at least by asking for advice to other candidates. The invigilators themselves, who are lawyers appointed by the Bar, will often try to help candidates, despite the fact that even they cannot be sure of what is the exact answer to the open questions.

Under these conditions, the exam becomes collective rather than individual. Therefore the members of the Examinations Committee find themselves marking very similar answer, thus making the evaluation process very random and arbitrary.

A new law regulating the legal profession entered into force in 2013, but it laid out no provisions significantly reforming the examination, despite the fact that it had been drafted by the Bar Association.

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