|Parent company||Internet Brands|
|Founder||Charles (Ed) Sherman and Ralph (Jake) Warner|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||Berkeley, California|
|Publication types||Books, Software, eBooks, Legal Forms, Online Services, Articles|
|Nonfiction topics||Law, Business, Nonprofits, Personal Finance, Estate Planning, Employment Law, Family Law|
Nolo, formerly known as Nolo Press, is a publisher in Berkeley, California, that produces do-it-yourself legal books and software that reduce the need for people to hire lawyers for simple legal matters such as making wills or writing business partnership contracts. In 2011, the company was purchased by Internet Brands, Inc.
The company was founded in an attic in 1971 by Ralph Warner (who received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1963 and his degree in law from the Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley) and family law attorney Ed Sherman. The company published Sherman's first book, How to Do Your Own Divorce in California, after they discovered that other publishers wouldn't (fearing prosecution for practicing law without a law licence). As of 2012[update], Warner remains associated with Nolo, though he relinquished day-to-day control following the company's sale to Internet Brands in 2011. Sherman founded his own legal publishing business, Nolo Press Occidental, a separate company from Nolo.com.
The company's name is derived from the legal phrase Nolo contendere, meaning "it will not be disputed" or "I choose not to dispute". The word "nolo" itself could be taken to mean "I will not", "I choose not", or "I would prefer not to". The company recommends getting professional legal help for disputable or difficult matters.
The company's logo shows the scales of justice tilted (in the favor of the reader). Some older Nolo publications feature an unofficial mascot, a shark depicted wearing a necktie and carrying a briefcase – showing the company's fondness for poking fun at their fellow members of the legal profession. This mascot was often accompanied by the motto "Don't feed the lawyers. Just say Nolo."
The Nolo shark officially retired in 2006 on the company's 35th anniversary.
In 2006, Nolo began publishing a directory of attorneys, which is asserted to operate on the principle that both participating lawyers and consumers are better served by a relatively short list of qualified attorneys under each category (business law, real estate, etc.), with lots of information for side-by-side comparisons.
Complaints from lawyers
Although the company's products conspicuously recommend the reader should engage a lawyer for difficult or contended matters, the company has nevertheless drawn the ire of some legal organizations.
In 1997, the Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (a committee of the Texas Supreme Court) opened investigations on Nolo and similar publishers, inquiring as to whether their publications constituted practicing law without a license. Saying that the investigation was "the first step toward widespread state censorship", Nolo sued, seeking a declaratory judgment that its publications were legal. It was joined in the action by the American Association of Law Libraries and the Texas Library Association. In response, the Texas Legislature enacted HR 1507, which expressly exempted websites and textbooks from accusations of practicing law without a license, providing they "clearly and conspicuously state that the products are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney". In light of this, the court committee dropped its contest of Nolo's suit.
- Kinsella, Bridget (May 3, 2011). "Nolo Acquired by New Media Company Internet Brands". Publishers Weekly.
- Nolo.com staff biography of Ralph Warner
- Nolo Press Occidental corporate history webpage
- Doreen Carvajal (August 24, 1998). "Lawyers Are Not Amused By Feisty Legal Publisher". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- Legal Affairs magazine, September 2003
- "Publisher of self-help legal aids under scrutiny", Dallas Morning News April 19, 1998
- Texas HR 1507
- Nolo press release celebrating its victory in Texas
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- "A Berkeley upstart of the '70s becomes the guru of legal self-help", BusinessWeek
- Nolo's company history