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

State Laws on Termination for Violation of Lease
Learn the time limits required before a landlord may evict a tenant for violating a lease.
State Laws Prohibiting Landlord Retaliation
In most states, landlords cannot retaliate against a tenant for exercising a legal right. Find out what tenant rights are protected from landlord retaliation, and situations in which landlord retaliation is presumed.
Beyond Jail: Fines and Restitution
Judges have many choices when it comes to sentencing a convicted defendant.
Foreclosure and Renting to a New Tenant: Tenant Remedies
If a landlord rents out property knowing it will soon be in foreclosure, what can the tenant do?
The USPTO's Patent Public Search Tool
What is the new Patent Public Search Tool?
What Do Uber and Lyft Drivers Need to Know About Car Insurance?
You're required to have your own auto insurance as a rideshare driver, but will Uber’s or Lyft's insurance also protect you?
California Tenants Entitled to Information About Bed Bugs
January 1, 2018. New and existing tenants are entitled to specific information about bedbug infestation and how to report a new problem.
Tenants Caught in Foreclosure: Who Gets the Rent?
Learn to whom tenants should pay rent when landlords fall into foreclosure.
Tenants' Rights: When to Hire a Lawyer
Lawyers are expensive, but there are times when hiring one might be necessary to protect your rights as a renter.
Choosing Tenants: Avoid Fair Housing Complaints and Lawsuits
Antidiscrimination laws limit the tenants you can accept and reject.