Special Examination Information Letter

As the governing body of the legal profession in Nunavut, the Law Society of Nunavut (LSN) wishes to ensure students-at-law have the best opportunity to succeed in becoming licensed to practice law in the Territory while simultaneously upholding robust bar admission standards required to promote confidence in the legal profession and protect the public.

As you are perhaps already aware, several important issues relating to the student-at-law bar admission process were raised as a result of the report prepared by the Taskforce on the revision of the Nunavut Statutes Examination (“Taskforce Report”) shared at the 2022-2023 Annual General Meeting. This FAQ seeks to respond to some of the questions and issues raised while also outlining next steps.

The Nunavut Statutes Examination is considered a “special examination”, which is defined in the Legal Profession Act as “an examination at university standards in subjects pertaining to substantive law in force in Nunavut”. The Nunavut Statutes Examination is not a “bar admission examination” as is defined in the Legal Profession Act.

Since the LSN’s inception, the Nunavut Statutes Examination has been prescribed as a special examination for students-at-law in conjunction with other LSN-mandated bar admission course(s) and bar admission examination(s). Most recently, the Nunavut Statutes Examination was prescribed in addition to the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s (CPLED) Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP), which includes a final capstone assessment.

While this program and assessment satisfy both the bar admission course and bar admission examination requirements under section 16 of the Legal Profession Act for a student-at-law to be eligible to apply for membership, the LSN determined it necessary to prescribe an additional examination to assess the student-at-law’s ability to interpret Nunavut-specific statutes given the uniqueness of the jurisdiction.

Under section 8 of the Legal Profession Act, the LSN has the authority to “prescrib[e] the terms and conditions on which approval for admission as members or as students-at-law may be given”, including “prescribing or establishing a bar admission course and bar admission examination or special examination or both”.

In prescribing the Nunavut Statutes Examination as a special examination, this created an additional requirement for students-at-law to become eligible to be qualified for membership under section 18(2) of the Legal Profession Act.

Since 2000, the Nunavut Statutes Examination was a two-part short-answer, open-book examination, with updates made to the questions on an ongoing basis. In 2022, the LSN made significant changes to the Examination, which primarily included changing:

  • Part A of the Examination from open-book to closed-book and from short answer to multiple choice;
  • the ability for students-at-law to select their preferred date to write the Examination and instead introducing Examination sittings; and
  • the language availability of the Examination, which meant a student-at-law was able to write the Examination in one of two language formats: English/Inuktitut and English/French.

For more information on the changes made to the Nunavut Statutes Examination, please see the Nunavut Statutes Examination Information Note for Students-at-Law (March 2022) and Nunavut Statutes Examination Revised Rules and Protocols (May 2022).

Following the recommendation made by the Taskforce Report, a letter of apology was sent to all students-at-law impacted by the 2022 changes made to the Nunavut Statutes Examination’s policies, procedures and protocols.

A roundtable will be scheduled early December to give current and former students-at-law an opportunity to meet directly with the LSN, as well as meet with each other.

The roundtable will take place after the students-at-law have provided their feedback through the student-at-law survey, which is to be circulated by end of November.

More details on this roundtable to follow.

Further to the June 2023 President’s Statement regarding the status of the Nunavut Statutes Examination and Taskforce Report, the LSN will be hosting an information session with a Q&A followed by a social gathering at the Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre in Iqaluit on Tuesday, November 14th at 6:00 p.m. EST. This information session will also be accessible remotely.

Learn more here.

In light of the Taskforce Report, the LSN is strongly considering the Taskforce’s recommendation of abolishing the requirement for students-at-law to write the Nunavut Statutes Examination. However, prior to making a final determination, the LSN Executive wishes to ensure opportunities for consultation and feedback from the broader membership on both the abolishment of the Nunavut Statutes Examination and what, if any, special examination(s) should be considered.

An invitation for written feedback will be circulated to the membership and posted on the LSN website to solicit substantive, qualitative feedback on the prescription of the Nunavut Statutes Examination. Responses will be consolidated ahead of a special meeting, which is set to be held before 31 March 2024. During this special meeting, the membership will specifically consider exercise of the LSN’s discretion to prescribe, establish and administer the Nunavut Statutes Examination as a “special examination” under section 16(1) of the Legal Profession Act.

To give an opportunity to provide feedback on the broader bar admission process for students-at-law, in-depth surveys will be circulated to two groups: (1) students-at-law and (2) articling principals, mentors and supervisors. The questions will cover a range of topics and issues, and survey results will help inform forthcoming decisions on the form, function and future of the student-at-law bar admission process. This information will also be shared with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s (CPLED) given their ongoing review of their bar admission course, the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP).

Following the review of the Taskforce Report, the LSN Executive has determined more support is needed to oversee and review the process for students-at-law seeking to become qualified for admission to practice law in the Territory, separate and apart from the work of the Membership and Admissions Committee.

Effective immediately, the LSN Executive is establishing a new five-member standing “Articling & Bar Admissions Committee”. This Committee will be tasked with ongoing review and support of the bar admissions process for students-at-law.

Further details on the Committee to follow, including an invitation for expressions of interest and draft Terms of Reference.

Mindful of the lessons learned from the Taskforce Report, the LSN Executive anticipates any final determination of the Nunavut Statutes Examination will apply to newly enrolled students-at-law and until a final determination is made, current students-at-law will remain exempt from the Nunavut Statutes Examination, regardless of the final decision.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Requirement is one standard the LSN must abide by when looking to make changes to the bar admission process for students-at-law. The National Requirement outlines the competency requirements an applicant must satisfy to enter a bar admission program in Canada. You can learn more about the FLSC National Requirement here.

Two of these competency requirements are that the applicant must have: (1) demonstrated the ability to use techniques of legal reasoning and argument, such as case analysis and statutory interpretation, to analyze legal issues; and (2) an understanding of the foundations of law, including the process of statutory construction and analysis.

To note, as of June 2023, the National Requirement is undergoing a review. One of the main aspects of this review is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action #27 and #28.

A comprehensive review of the bar admissions process in Nunavut as was recommended by the Taskforce Report – including the potential development of an anti-racist Nunavut-specific student-at-law bar admission program – is a significant and laudable undertaking. At the 2023-24 AGM, the LSN Executive will be seeking feedback from the membership on how to best resource and support a potential review and/or redesign of the bar admission process for students-at-law in Nunavut. Considering the financial report shared at the 2023 AGM, this discussion will also include the possibility of adding a special levy to membership fees.