Professor Pearl was born and raised in San Francisco. He received his B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966. He received his J.D. degree from Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley in 1969.
After graduating from law school, Professor Pearl worked as a staff attorney for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society in Atlanta, Georgia, representing low-income persons in housing, government benefit, and consumer cases. His next job was for California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) in McFarland, California, where he worked as a Staff Attorney and then Directing Attorney for two and a half years. During that time, he represented low-income farm workers and others in class action lawsuits involving housing, unemployment insurance, and school desegregation. In 1974, he moved to CRLA's Central Office in San Francisco, where he ultimately became its Director of Litigation, supervising a staff of more than 60 attorneys. In 1983, he went into full-time private practice, first in Oakland, then in San Francisco, now in Berkeley.
Professor Pearl has been a sole practitioner since 1987, working primarily on cases involving court-awarded attorneys' fees, class actions, and appeals. He is the author of California Attorney Fee Awards, 2d Ed. (CEB 2005). He has been teaching Public Interest Law, formerly Representing the Underrepresented, at Hastings since 1987.
Professor Pearl's interests include politics, history, baseball, golf, and cooking/eating, as well as the travails of his three adult sons and three grandchildren, Atticus, Roan, and Oskar.