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

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 on Unconditional Quit Terminations
State rules on when a landlord can order a tenant to move out on short notice.
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.
Sublet and Assignment Clauses in Commercial Leases
When you’re looking for commercial space, you’ll be asking for just the right amount of square footage, for the time period you expect to remain in that location. But pressing business needs (positive or negative) may develop and require you give up part of your rental while you occupy the rest,
Commercial Triple Net Leases: Allocating Insurance Costs
Another negotiation point will be liability insurance.
The Commercial Lease: What You Should Know
Renting commercial space is a big responsibility -- the success or failure of your business may ride on certain terms of the lease. Before you approach a landlord, you should understand how commercial leases differ from the more common residential variety, and before you sign anything, make sure you understand the basic terms of the lease, such as the amount of rent, the length of the lease, and the configuration of the physical space.
Asbestos Hazards and Property Seller Disclosures
Home sellers are responsible for informing prospective buyers about environmental hazards, such as asbestos.
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?
Legal Aid and Pro Bono Representation and How to Find It
Learn about legal aid and pro bono representation, the difference between them, and how to find these types of free legal help.
Choosing Tenants: Avoid Fair Housing Complaints and Lawsuits
Antidiscrimination laws limit the tenants you can accept and reject.