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Ryan Bakelaar is a trial and litigation attorney who focuses on complex medical malpractice defense. Ryan is also a licensed, board-certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist who practiced medicine for nearly 15 years and began practicing law in 2013.

Amazingly, Ryan determined that he wanted to attend both medical and law school when he was a high school student. Ryan set to work to accomplish this goal and achieved it, allowing him to defend hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare professionals facing malpractice claims.

Ryan attended Cornell University, majoring in Biology & Society, a clear predictor of his future career goals. After graduating from college, he performed molecular biology research at the National Cancer Institute. He went on to receive his M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School. Thereafter, he completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center where he trained with renowned leaders in the field and learned to manage a wide variety of complex obstetric and gynecologic conditions. He received his law degree from Campbell University Law School and for several years thereafter, continued to be engaged in the practice of medicine. While he remains a licensed physician, he has hung up his stethoscope and put away his scrubs, focusing completely on the practice of law.   

An avid bird watcher, Ryan has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world to find specific bird species and to witness the spectacle of bird migration. From a recent flock of American Flamingos on the Outer Banks to the first North American record of Red-footed Falcon from Eastern Europe, it’s anybody’s guess what he will see next! He and his son are on a mission to see all the oriole species endemic to the Caribbean; 4 down and 5 to go! 

Ryan and his wife live in Durham with their three children and routinely perform swim team taxi-duty for their young swimmers. They enjoy gardening, travel, and spending time with extended family at Topsail Beach where they spend much time searching for sharks’ teeth. Although they are still searching for the elusive Megalodon tooth, Ryan has an impressive collection he keeps in his office.   



  • J.D., Campbell University Law School
  • M.D., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – New Jersey Medical School
    • Residency: Duke University Medical Center
  • B.S., Cornell University

Bar Admissions

  • North Carolina


  • Partner, Batten Lee, PLLC, Raleigh, 2019-2023
    • Associate, 2013-2018
  • Extern, North Carolina Court of Appeals, Raleigh, 2011
    • Extern in the chambers of the Honorable Cheri Beasley and the Honorable Sanford Steelman
  • Physician, 2007
  • Resident Physician, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, 2003-2007
  • Research Associate/Independent Contractor, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 2003
  • Pre-CRTA Fellow, National Cancer Institute, 1998