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

Armed Robbery: Laws and Penalties
A person commits armed robbery when he takes something from someone else by using violence or intimidation and while carrying a dangerous weapon.
Homemade Guns: Definitions & Technology
Using a 3D printer and an "unfinished receiver," you can create a homemade gun that will not need to be registered.
Does the Second Amendment Also Protect Homemade Guns? Is it a Crime to Use a Homemade Gun?
The Second Amendment protects an individual's right to make and own a gun, though states are allowed to impose reasonable restrictions.
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 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.
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 D and Level Four Felonies
Here you'll find an explanation of a Class D Felony classification, crimes that are considered Class D, and sentencing and penalty information.
Class B and Level Two Felonies
All states and the federal criminal code distinguish between felony crimes (serious offenses) and misdemeanors (less serious). Some states use a classification system to further rank felonies (from severe to less so).
Class A and Level One Felonies
Felonies classified as “Class A” or “Level One” are the most serious crimes, short of death penalty crimes. They incur long prison sentences and hefty fines.
Misdemeanor Crimes: Classes and Penalties
Most states and the federal criminal code have classified their misdemeanors into classes or levels.