Janet Portman

Attorney · Santa Clara University School of Law

Janet Portman joined Nolo in 1994 and is the Executive Editor. She has a Bachelor’s degree (Honors Humanities, Phi Beta Kappa) and Master’s degree (Religious Studies) from Stanford University, and a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law. Her first job was with the California State Public Defender, where she handled criminal appeals for indigent clients and spent six months trying cases for the Alameda County Public Defender. She successfully argued a case before the California Supreme Court. (People v. Woodard, 23 Cal.3d 329 (1979).) Janet is an active member of the California State Bar.

Work at Nolo. After taking some time away from the law to raise her family, Janet joined Nolo as part of the team writing the company’s first national landlord-tenant book, Every Landlord’s Legal Guide. She has authored or coauthored many books since then: Every Landlord's Guide to Finding Great Tenants, Every Tenant's Legal Guide, Renters' Rights, Negotiate the Best Lease for Your Business, Leases & Rental Agreements, The California Landlord's Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities, and California Tenants' Rights.  Drawing on her days as a “PD,” Janet also contributes to the criminal law sections of Nolo’s websites.

Media. Janet has contributed commentary to major media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, Kiplinger’s, and The New York Times. For many years she was a nationally-syndicated columnist, writing “Rent It Right” every week.

Why Nolo? Joining Nolo was a natural next step after the public defender’s office. Janet went from helping indigent criminal defendants to educating people about everyday civil law—how to understand it, apply it, and stay away from entanglements in the court system. She takes pride in writing books for both landlords and tenants, without bias. The best compliment she ever received came from a landlord who, having read Every Tenant's Legal Guide, said, “I wish all my tenants would read this—I’d have way fewer problems!”

Articles By Janet Portman

Your State's Laws May Offer More Protections
What you learn here, when it comes to defendants’ rights, is the least you can expect, and you may be better protected if your state has liberalized the rules established by the Supreme Court.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Assault with a deadly weapon is a felony offense regardless of the actual injuries caused to the victim. A defendant convicted of assault with a deadly weapon faces a stiff prison sentence.
Revenge Porn: Laws & Penalties
Learn about the criminal penalites associated with nonconsensual pornography (NCP) or revenge porn.
Public Intoxication Laws and Penalties
Can being drunk in public get you arrested and charged with a crime? Learn about the various state approaches to public intoxication.
Can You Work While on House Arrest?
House arrest with work privileges sounds appealing, especially when compared to jail. But it's a good idea to understand the costs, responsibilities, and restrictions associated with home detention and work release.
Plea Bargaining Pros and Cons
The vast majority of cases are settled by plea bargaining, which is the reason most cases don’t go to trial. Plea bargains have pros and cons for both sides.
Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence (DV) is a crime of violence, typically an assault, battery, stalking, or criminal harassment, perpetrated by someone against a family or household member. Some states have specific statutes that are separate from the general assault statutes.
Diversion, Mediation or Treatment Instead of Criminal Conviction
If you are charged with a crime for the first time, you may not be looking at prison, or even jail time. People who know they won't go to jail often think that a quick guilty plea is the best way...
Warrant While Incarcerated: Multiple Warrants
There are times when an individual may have one or more arrest warrants on record, even while they are already in a correctional facility for another crime.
Sealing a Federal Adult Criminal Record
If you were convicted in federal district court of a federal offense, in theory you may appeal to a federal district court judge to expunge your record. Federal judges have the power to expunge any record of conviction, but they rarely exercise it.