Soon-to-be-Judge Deana Seymour’s mantra is short and simple: Try.
Seymour will join the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, sitting in Memphis, after her April 5, 2016 swearing-in. She is a partner at Rainey, Kizer, Reviere and Bell, PLC in Jackson, where she concentrates in workers’ compensation and tort litigation.
Seymour’s first entry into the world of fulltime employment began shortly after her high-school graduation and marriage to Douglas Seymour. At age 18, she went to work in a local shirt factory where she turned shirt sleeves inside out eight hours per day, forty hours per week.
Given her outgoing personality and quick mind, not long afterward, Seymour began work for a bank and then the University of Tennessee at Martin. This afforded her the opportunity to attend two night classes per semester. By this time, the Seymours had two daughters. Once the girls reached school age, Seymour became a full-time student. She completed her Bachelor of Public Administration degree with highest honors in 1987.
Seymour immediately moved to Knoxville, where she enrolled at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Her daughters were 7 and 10 years old when she started. The family decided to remain in west Tennessee so that the girls could continue to attend their familiar schools. She knew some people wouldn’t understand the decision, and sure enough, she did weather some criticism.
But perhaps the toughest moment from her law school years was a telephone call from her younger daughter, begging Seymour to attend her school play. Seymour asked her to put her daddy on the phone, and then she told her husband she was coming home. His response?
“We’re almost there. Don’t give up on this now. Just stay there,” she recalled. “I can still remember his words and how encouraging he was to me. I knew for the good of our family, I had to finish. I knew it was a small period of time in the whole scheme of things.”
She earned her law degree in 1990 with honors and returned home.
Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer remarked, “These early phases of Deana’s life speak volumes about the kind of work ethic and commitment she’ll bring to the bench.”
A law school colleague suggested Seymour apply to Rainey Kizer, where she has practiced law for the past twenty-six and one-half years. She has represented clients at the trial- and appellate-court levels, as well as most recently in the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims.
“I think the new system is going to be much more efficient and better than what I’ve seen over the past 26 years,” she said. “That’s what motivated me to apply for this position. Tennessee has a strong basis now for a very smooth, fair system, and I want to be a part of that.”
The Seymours have been married for 42 years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, photography and mostly spoiling her four grandchildren.
Reflecting on what she’s accomplished and what lies ahead, Seymour said, “I hope I’ve set an example for my children and grandchildren. As my mom told me, ‘If you decide you need to do something and it will help other people, then try. You can do anything you want to do. Never look back and regret the fact that you didn’t try.’”
Seymour explained, “I am a strong believer in respect, honesty, equality, and fairness. I look forward to this opportunity to apply my core values to the fair and equitable interpretation of Workers’ Compensation Law.”