Janet Portman


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 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.

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

Driving on a Suspended License in Alabama
As in all states, drivers licensed in Alabama who have been convicted of certain driving violations or other offenses may have their driving privileges suspended or revoked. Suspension means that the Director of Public Safety temporarily withdraws your license to drive. (Ala. Code § 32-1-1.1.) Revocation
Driving on a Suspended License in Georgia
Like all states, Georgia may suspend or revoke your driver’s license for varied reasons. A suspension typically means a temporary withdrawal of your driving privileges.
Driving on a Suspended License in Arizona
Arizona drivers may find their licenses suspended or revoked for particular driving violations or other criminal offenses.
Qualifying for Free Legal Services
A defendant who wants a free lawyer must ask the court, and provide personal financial information Each state (or even county) has its own rules about who qualifies as indigent.
Revenge Porn in Florida: Sexual Cyberharassment
Can Florida prosecute an act of revenge porn if the image was posted out-of-state? (Hint: Where does the victim live?)
Revenge Porn: Laws & Penalties
Currently, revenge porn – the online posting of explicit photos of people without their permission, usually by exes – is a legal gray area in most states. Advocates for victims argue that revenge porn is a form of harassment and an invasion of privacy and should be criminalized.  
Class B and Level Two Misdemeanors
Mid-level misdemeanors are often classified as Class B or Level Two. They may result in fines and jail time of up to a year in most states.
Class A and Level One Misdemeanors
Among misdemeanors, Class A or Level One crimes are the most serious, incurring fines and jail time of up to one year in most states.
Class C Misdemeanors and Level Three Misdemeanors
The federal criminal code and the criminal laws of every state divide crimes into two levels, felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are less serious; typically, they result in a sentence of one year or less, and sentences are served in a jail, not a state prison. Felonies result in state prison time, unless the court has the option to impose probation.
Can I Be Convicted of Shoplifting When I Never Left the Store with the Merchandise?
Proving that the defendant intended to keep the item can be done by showing that he left without paying for it--but that's not the only way.