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

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...
Homemade Guns: Are They Legal? Must They Be Registered?
Privately made guns, including ghost guns and 3D guns aren't heavily regulated by the federal government, but some federal restrictions still apply. And a growing number of states have outlawed untraceable homemade guns.
Misdemeanor Crimes: Classes and Penalties
Most states and the federal criminal code have classified their misdemeanors into classes or levels.
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.
Terrorist Threat Laws and Penalties
Lawmakers and courts have long recognized that some damaging or dangerous forms of speech should be prohibited. Making a terrorist threat is one such form of speech that is prohibited.
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.
Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in Arizona
Arizona drivers may find their licenses suspended or revoked for particular driving violations or other criminal offenses.
Public Urination Laws and Penalties
Urinating in public is illegal in every state. Defendants may be charged under a law that specifically criminalizes the act, or the prosecutor may allege that the defendant presented a public nuisance or is guilty of disorderly conduct.
Driving on a Suspended or Revoked 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.
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.