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Alumna and Local Attorney Wins Distinguished ‘Rising Star Award’

By Nicole Troy

Local immigration attorney and alumna Nicole Mullikin (Modern Languages and Literatures, ’15) is the 2023 recipient of the Women Lawyers Association of San Luis Obispo County’s “Rising Star” award, honoring her work as a lawyer with fewer than seven years of experience.  

Mullikin, who is bilingual in Spanish, opened her practice, the Law Office of Nicole G. Mullikin, in 2022 with a focus on family and humanitarian immigration cases, including, but not limited to, adjustment of status, consular processing, citizenship, military parole in place, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal. 

Melodie Rivas and Nicole Mullikin
Melodie Rivas (left) and Nicole Mullikin (right)
at the San Luis Obispo Women Lawyer’s
Association’s award ceremony. 

“I feel incredibly honored and humbled to be the recipient of this award and I am thrilled to be receiving it alongside my friend, San Luis Obispo College of Law professor and San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation Director of Family Law Services Melodie Rivas, who won the Outstanding Woman Lawyer Award,” Mullikin said. “This is the product of all of the people in my life who have helped me to rise — my husband, family, friends, mentors, professors, teachers, clients, and this wonderful community of attorneys. I hope to continue to make them proud in my work supporting immigrants.” 

A San Luis Obispo native, Mullikin attended both Pacheco Elementary school, a dual-immersion program where students acquire literacy in both English and Spanish, and Cal Poly, majoring in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese and minoring in Asian studies. 

“One of the things that is so important about my Cal Poly education is that I am able to connect with my clients on a deeper level, because I can speak their language,” Mullikin said. “If someone’s talking to me about how they've been the victim of a crime or domestic violence, and they can tell me in their own language and I can understand without a third person in the room to interpret, it's a lot less stressful for them.” 

Nicole Mullikin posing at her graduation
Mullikin at her graduation from San Luis Obispo
College of Law. 

The State Bar of California catalogs 736 active licensed attorneys in the county, 49 of which have identified Spanish as an additional language spoken. And one local organization, the San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF), sees the need for additional multilingual attorneys in the area. 

“Even though SLOLAF doesn’t work in the same areas of law that Nicole does, we do see the need for having bilingual attorneys and support staff, and we utilize ours regularly,” Donna Jones, the executive director of SLOLAF said. “In all of the cases SLOLAF closed last year, ten percent of them involved clients who self-identified as Limited English Proficiency.” 

According to a survey by the State Bar of California in 2017, 18.3% of respondents said they used Spanish within their legal practice — something Mullikin says is crucial when communicating with clients, especially within immigration law. "In the professional world, my ability to speak and write Spanish fluently is absolutely essential. I wouldn't be able to do my job the way that I do without it,” she said. 

Her ability to speak more than one language has not only helped her inside of the office, but also in her endeavors to connect with the local community. 

“I've done talks with SLO County Undocusupport, which is an organization that supports the local undocumented immigrant community, and I have found it useful to volunteer at events like these because it helps to build bridges, and it makes people realize, 'Oh, it's not scary to talk to an attorney and there's even someone that speaks Spanish fluently’,” Mullikin said. 

Since opening her office, she has continued to serve the community by volunteering at dozens of local events and giving more than 15 presentations on immigration law.  

“I am so grateful to be able to give back to the community that I grew up in and I think that it's very important for everyone to have knowledge about immigration law, whether it helps them, their family or their friends,” Mullikin said. “There are a lot of things on TikTok and other sources that aren't entirely accurate about immigration law, so the more correct information that we can put out there to help combat misinformation, the better.” 

Nicole Mullikin at a Cal Poly panel event
Mullikin as a panel speaker at Cal Poly’s event
United by Excellence: Paving the Road to
Higher Education for Latinx Student. 

On top of volunteering and presenting, she is also affiliated with several local organizations including the San Luis Obispo Bar Association, Latino Outreach Council, Women Lawyers Association of San Luis Obispo County and the advisory boards of both the San Luis Obispo College of Law and Cal Poly World Languages and Cultures Department. She has also taught courses at San Luis Obispo College of Law. 

Mullikin’s expertise not only serves the local community, but she has also represented clients from more than 18 countries. 

“One of the fun things about my job is that I get to learn about new countries and cultures just like I was doing at Cal Poly when I was learning about Chinese and Latin American cultures,” Mullikin said. 

A self-proclaimed “lover of languages” from an early age, she knew that no matter what career she found herself in — language and culture would be at the center of it.  

“I don't think I can overstate the impact that Pacheco Elementary School has had on my life. Without that foundation and bilingual education, I would never have become a Spanish major, and likely never an immigration attorney,” Mullikin said.  

The Cal Poly World Languages and Cultures Department served as the next stepping stone on her language-focused career path and ended up bringing her back to her roots. 

“When it came time to pick a major for college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to help people and that language skills would pair well with any career,” Mullikin said. “And what makes the World Languages and Cultures Department stand out is that the motto of Learn by Doing is really taken to heart. I wasn't memorizing grammar lists like you may think would be normal for a traditional language course. Instead, we did activities like practicing conversations with classmates and volunteering in Spanish language classes at Pacheco.”  

Nicole Mullikin presenting with Kevin Gregg
Mullikin and Kevin Gregg, presenting
together about immigration law
at an UndocuSupport community
event in Paso Robles. 

After graduating from Cal Poly, Mullikin worked fulltime for Cal Poly’s Extended, Professional and Continuing Education (EPaCE) program before enrolling in the San Luis Obispo College of Law earning a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and a Master of Legal Studies degree. 

Her passion for immigration law sparked in 2019 when she began interning for Paso Robles immigration attorney Kevin C. Gregg. “Kevin took me under his wing and mentored me, and I knew that was my niche.” 

With language playing such a pivotal role in her life, Mullikin is passionate about sharing that love and encouraging others to learn additional languages.  

“In the Venn diagram of life, if you can speak the language of your neighbors, then your diagrams overlap and it's no longer ‘us’ and ‘them’,” Mullikin said. “Languages build bridges, and in this day and age we need as many bridges as we can get.”  




If you or someone you know needs confidential immigration services, you can contact Nicole Mullikin at (805) 242-2030 or visit her website at 


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