A few weeks after he took the New York State Bar Exam, Gary Jones* received an alarming call from Albany regarding “credible evidence of cheating.” Don’t worry, the investigator from the Bar Association told him, he was not a suspect; it was the guy who sat next to him.
Apparently, the suspect had blundered into a basic precaution on the qualification test for lawyers: multiple versions of the same test.
The suspect set off a red flag when his multiple choice answers scored much better on an alternate version of the test. When investigators checked his seating location, they found that he was sitting across from someone who had that version of the test, namely Jones. When they compared the two tests, it was apparent that he had copied from Jones.
The investigator from the Bar Association questioned Jones for 90 minutes on the phone.
The investigator wanted to know, among other questions, whether Jones had noticed the alleged cheater (Jones could only vaguely describe him); whether the proctor had walked down the aisle during the test (he had); whether Jones had said anything before the test that would have conveyed that he went to a top law school (he hadn’t).
Finally, Jones was asked to sign an affidavit. If the investigation goes to court, he may be required to testify.
We don’t know what will happen to the suspect, but clearly he doesn’t deserve to be a lawyer.
What really shocked Jones was that the suspect would copy his answers without knowing anything about him.
“He must have been really desperate,” Jones told me.
One of the hardest bar exams, the New York Bar Exam in February had a 75% pass rate for first-time test takers from accredited schools and a 50% pass rate for all candidates.
*Name changed to protect privacy.