Proudly Representing People Injured on the Job in South Carolina
Holly Saleeby Atkins
Holly Saleeby Atkins practiced workers’ compensation defense for ten years, representing insurance companies and employers in workers’ compensation matters. She was then appointed Chairman of the SC Workers’ Compensation Commission by Governor Hodges in March of 1999. She served as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner until July 2003, when she left the Commission to go into private practice on the side of injured workers. She now focuses solely on helping workers injured in South Carolina achieve the benefits to which they are entitled under the law.
Holly brings a unique and powerful perspective to the practice of Workers’ Compensation. Holly represented employers when she first began to practice in this area. She learned a great deal about how employers and insurance carriers’ view and handle work injures during this time. Holly was then appointed by Governor Jim Hodges to be Chairman of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission in 1999. She functioned as a hearing officer, deciding disputed claims. After four years on the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, Holly resigned to practice law, exclusively representing injured workers.
In February of 2014, Ms. Atkins was recognized for her exemplary rating by both peers and clients via the Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review.
Dewana Flynn Looper
Dewana Flynn Looper spent roughly 9 years defending businesses and insurance companies in workers’ compensation claims. As a defense attorney at one of the Carolinas’ leading workers’ compensation defense firms, Dewana traveled to multiple states teaching adjusters about South Carolina workers’ compensation laws. She regularly speaks at seminars about the ins and outs of workers’ compensation. Atkins Law Firm is honored to have her as a part of our team both because of her track record of professional success and the values and personality she brings to our team.
Dewana grew up in Great Falls, South Carolina. She comes from a long line of textile workers and blue collar workers. If you ask anyone who knew her as a child, they will tell you that as far back as they can remember, Dewana wanted to be a lawyer and she worked hard to make that dream come true. In 2000, Dewana graduated Valedictorian from Great Falls High School. She then moved to the “big city” of Columbia and attended the University of South Carolina Honors College. A lifelong Gamecocks fan, Dewana fell in love with Columbia. She graduated magna cum laude in 2004 with an English major and took a year off working in a real estate law firm before pursuing her legal education at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where she graduated cum laude in 2008. Dewana earned the distinction of being appointed to the Order of the Coif (an honor reserved for those graduating in the top 10% of the law school class), the Order of the Wig and Robe, and the Knox Haynsworth Scholarship (for excellence in employment and labor law). Dewana was also a member of the Real Property, Probate & Trust Journal, where she honed her legal writing skills.
After law school, Dewana spent a year practicing workers’ compensation in Charlotte, North Carolina, before she moved back “home” to Columbia. Lord willing, she swears she will never leave. She is licensed and in good standing in both states. Dewana’s understanding of both North and South Carolina laws make her especially valuable in cases where a claim could be brought in either state. At a personal level, Dewana’s upbringing helps her understand and appreciate the working people of South Carolina. Her experience defending the types of claims she is now bringing gives her tremendous insight and knowledge into how workers’ compensation claims are viewed by the defense—including what type of documentation is needed to help your claim move more smoothly and how insurance companies value claims. We look forward to putting her experience to work for you.
Currently, Dewana serves on the board of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Association, (SCWCEA). The association conducts seminars and programs designed to educate those involved in workers’ compensation claims in the state of South Carolina. When she isn’t practicing law, Dewana enjoys spending time with her husband of 11 years, her two rotten boys (lovingly dubbed “the tumultuous tornado” and “the pint-sized dictator”), and her family. She also loves Gamecocks sports—even when the Gamecocks stink.
Joseph “Joe” Wideman, Jr. started his legal career defending businesses and insurance companies in workers’ compensation claims. As a defense attorney at one of the Carolinas’ leading workers’ compensation defense firms, Joe educated adjusters and employers about South Carolina workers’ compensation laws and helped them navigate through the system seeing a claim through from start to finish. Atkins Law Firm is honored to have him as part of our team. Joe brings a strong reputation for professionalism, a great work ethic, and a dynamic personality. He is a tremendous asset to our team.
Joe was born and raised in Belton, South Carolina and comes from a long-line of a working-class South Carolinians. Joe’s upbringing allowed him to be able to interact with people from all walks of life and allows him the ability to genuinely relate to people. Anyone you ask that knows Joe will tell you that he is a “straight-shooter”, compassionate, intelligent, and above all is “just a good guy”.
The first male in his family to attend college, Joe played Division I football and was a team captain for two years while at Presbyterian College “PC”. Joe graduated from PC in 2013 with a major in Business Management and Accounting. Since graduating from PC, Joe continues to serve his alma mater and currently is a member of the Young Alumni Board and holds a board position for the Midlands Alumni Chapter here in Columbia, South Carolina.
After graduating from PC, Joe pursued his legal education at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he graduated in 2016. While in law school, Joe served as President of the Honorable Matthew J. Perry Chapter of the Black Law Student Association “BLSA”. He also served as the National Financial Secretary for the National Black Law Student Association “NBLSA”.
Joe’s experience in defending the types of claims he is now bringing gives him insight into how to best posture claims for a good result. We are excited about putting his experience to work for you. When Joe isn’t practicing law or volunteering, Joe is a fitness fanatic and spends much of his free time working out or competing. When Joe isn’t at the gym, he enjoys cooking and spending time with his girlfriend, Antonia, and their two fur-babies, Daisy and LuLu.
Sherri is a native of Saginaw, Michigan, and grew up in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. She became a resident of the Columbia, South Carolina area in October 2017, and joined the Atkins Law Firm as a paralegal for Dewana Looper. She attended Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana, and brings to the firm over 22 years of legal experience, ten of those years in the workers’ compensation arena. She has received her certification in anesthesia and pain management coding, and auditor of medical claims. Sherri understands the stress a workers’ compensation injury can cause to a person, mentally, physically, and financially, and strives to lessen the impact of these burdens for the clients. She seeks to make a positive impact in our clients’ lives as they undergo the workers’ compensation process.
Sherri has been married for over 28 years and has two adult children. Her son was honorably discharged from the United States Navy in June of 2017, where he was stationed in Hawaii on the USS Texas nuclear submarine. Her daughter is a social butterfly and preschool teacher in Louisiana. At home, Sherri loves to cook and spend time with her husband and dogs. She thoroughly enjoys riding motorcycles, traveling and exploring new places, and lounging on the beach. She is an avid shopper with an emphasis on clothes and shoes. She is also a sports fan of the “other Tigers,” whom shall remain nameless, but relishes the comradery it brings to the firm.
Elizabeth was born in Newberry, South Carolina. She was born the day after Saturday Night Live premiered in October, 1975. She has lived in several different places in South Carolina, including Charleston and Spartanburg. She loved living on the Coast but, Columbia has always been her “home.”
Elizabeth brings over 23 years of legal experience to the Atkins Law Firm. Before coming to the Atkins Law Firm, Elizabeth spent 8 years in Charleston handling Workers’ Compensation, medical malpractice and nursing home abuse cases. She has also been a paralegal around South Carolina handling different types of law, including criminal, personal injury, long term/short term disability and ERISA claims. Her experience brings a helpful knowledge that she can share with our clients of what to expect during their Workers’ Compensation claim. She has a passion for helping others in need and it shows every day as she assists clients through the Workers’ Compensation process.
She now resides in Elgin, SC with her husband and 3 boys, ages 14, 10 and 1 1/2. In her spare time she enjoys going to whatever activities her children are involved in and spending time with family and friends.
Allyson Rickenbaker grew up in “Famously Hot” Columbia, SC. Before she was even a teenager, she spent every weekend, school holiday and summer break working alongside her dad in his convenience store/bait and tackle shop, which was located across the street from Columbia’s Industrial Park. It was in that store that she met, served and developed relationships with some of the hardest working men and women in the Midlands. It was in that store that early on in her life she developed a profound respect for the folks who worked such physically demanding jobs, hour after hour, day after day, to earn an honest living to support their families. People who genuinely deserved the utmost respect for tirelessly giving so much of themselves to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.
After Allyson raised her two beautiful and extraordinary daughters, Lauren and Katy, she returned into the workforce at 36, where she worked over 11 years for an attorney that specialized in probate and estate planning. It was in that position when she rediscovered her passion for law that had intrigued so many years ago. Allyson studied every book about estate planning and probate law that she could put her hands on and took advantage of any conference or seminar she could participate in, to learn as much about her new position as possible, for the sole purpose of being able to provide the very best service to the clients.
Now that Allyson is working in workers’ compensation law, she brings the same drive and determination to strive and be the best possible conduit for the clients, attorneys and paralegals to ensure the best possible service for clients. She strives to ensure that our clients have the very BEST in customer service, respect and knowledge regarding the status of their case and to always be available to assist them effectively and efficiently.
Karen was born and raised in Iowa, until she headed South with her family while in middle school. She considers herself a southerner now, as do her Midwest family and friends, whenever they hear her speak.
Karen brings over 30 years (gulp!) of legal experience to the Atkins Law Firm, 4 of which were actually with Holly! She started in the legal field right out of high school, and was fortunate enough to work with a firm that sent her through the Paralegal Program at Midlands Technical College. She has been a member of various associations, and is a past Paralegal Representative of the South Carolina Association for Justice. Over the course of her career, Karen has worked in litigation and workers’ compensation on both sides of the fence, and her compassion and commitment to help others brought her back home to Holly and the Atkins Law Firm.
Karen resides in Lexington, SC, with her husband, and they have 5 grown children, the youngest of whom still resides at home and attends college. They have 6 beautiful grandchildren, and thoroughly enjoy spending time with them. Karen recently lost her mom to cancer, and cherishes spending as much time as she can with her dad, having “Date Night with Dad” at least once a week.