Meet the Kaplan Experts: Ryan Rentmeester, Esq., Senior Regional Director, Pacific Coast
by Ryan Rentmeester, Esq., Senior Regional Director, Pacific Coast | July 16, 2020
The Kaplan Team is often cited as why schools stay with Kaplan, year after year. At Kaplan, there’s an expert at the heart of everything we do, whether it’s leading a class or developing innovative tools to help your students achieve their career goals. We stand behind our motto of, “For lawyers, by lawyers.” With our “Meet the Kaplan Experts” blog series, we introduce you to Kaplan’s extensive network of faculty, bar review and educational experts and delve into their diverse areas of expertise so that you can learn even more about your Kaplan team. This week, we're pleased to introduce you to Ryan Rentmeester, Esq., Senior Regional Director, Pacific Coast.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m originally from Wisconsin (GO Packers!). I studied acting in undergrad in Chicago. I played in and managed a touring rock band in the mid 2000’s. I went to law school at Cardozo in NYC. And I found a great job with Kaplan that brought together a lot of different interests: the law, directing and producing lectures in the studio, being on camera, teaching and working with students. I love traveling to law schools all over the country to teach students about the bar exam, help them develop skills to find confidence and success on the exam, and ultimately reach their career goals.
What is your particular area of expertise?
Bar review skills, working with students with non-traditional schedules, finding a few extra points on the MBE, and finding time to surf while maintaining an otherwise busy schedule.
SHARE MORE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE
How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?
I will have my 10 year anniversary with Kaplan Bar Review in March! I started out on the Academic Team working with professors and legal scholars in the studio. I produced and directed many of our amazing professors and would go on camera to teach skills based workshops. I’ve also taught institutional classes at schools all over the country. For the last five years I’ve worked in the field traveling to law schools all over the western half of the country. I work with Academic Support Personnel at law schools to access student needs and I work directly with the students to work on law school and bar related skills and ultimately find success on the bar exam.
Who or what experience inspired you to pursue a career in legal education?
Let’s be honest: bar review is a tough time. We all went through it. I didn’t love it, but I put in the time, I put in the effort, and it paid off. I’ve taken four bar exams! I wouldn’t suggest that for most students―and now with the UBE, thankfully, you don’t have to do that to get licenses in multiple states. But those bar experiences shaped me in a certain way. I figured out how to put forth sustained effort and strategic thinking; to keep my eye on the prize and not get mired in the weeds. To stay calm, trust the process and push through the difficult times.
I’m proud of my bar exam successes. It has always seemed a little funny to me that for most of us, the bar exam is something to get past and never revisit―one and done!―but now I’ve spent almost a decade living in the world of the bar exam. My experience is something I can share. It’s a tough period that all lawyers remember long into their careers. If I can help make that time a little smoother, a little easier on the students I work with, then I’m doing a good thing. The satisfaction I feel when I get the emails saying, “I passed! Thank you Kaplan!”, never gets old. I love it.
INSIGHTS INTO THE LEGAL EDUCATION
What is the most important aspect of a partnership between Kaplan and institutions?
The great thing about our Institutional partnerships is that they are real relationships. I know my Academic Support partners at my law schools really care for their students. And they can trust that we really care for their students as well. Our goals are aligned. We want to make sure that the relationship is strong―that our partners are supported―so that together we can support the students and spur on their success―in law school, on the bar exam, and beyond in their careers.
In your opinion, how can institutions best support students preparing for their exams?
The bar exam is a scary unknown for most students. Acclimating law students early to the skills needed for success on the exam is critical. Building these skills into regular law school curriculum and pushing pre bar study goes a long way to building a confident bar taker. Showing the students that the administration cares about their success and stands behind them and supports them through the entire process can create a strong and lasting bar legacy at a school.
What is the most important issue that professionals in your industry should be talking about today?
Distance and remote learning has been on the rise for some time but is obviously a pressing concern right now. It is shaping the future of education. Kaplan Bar Review has been on the forefront of interactive, remote learning for years at this point. This has been a tumultuous time with so many changes to exam dates and format etc.
The silver lining for us is we’ve been prepared for this learning environment for a long time. We’ve been operating in this sphere for a long time. We’ve created an engaging, interactive online learning environment that replicates the classroom experience. It provides flexibility and accountability and yet feels comfortable and recognizable. I know this pivot is on the minds of law school administrations across the country. We are here to help and would be happy to share our guidance and expertise.
If you could offer one piece of advice for students preparing for the bar exams, it would be:
Don’t wait to start practicing essays until you feel “confident” in the law. Bar exam essays are different from your typical “data dump” law school exam essay. Bar essays are as much about process as they are about recall of the law. You need to practice that efficient process of working through an essay―critically reading, spotting issues, outlining your analysis―to build “muscle memory.” That occurs through repetition and requires starting early. With Kaplan offering unlimited, unconditional essay grading by state specific, Kaplan-certified graders you are free to access and practice as many essays as you want. Start early!
Ryan is originally from the Wisconsin (GO Packers!). He went to law school at Cardozo in NYC and found a great job with Kaplan that brought together a lot of different interests: the law, directing and producing lectures in the studio, being on camera, teaching and working with students. Ryan loves traveling to law schools all over the country to teach students about the bar exam, help them develop skills to find confidence and success on the exam, and ultimately reach their career goals.