Professor Perlman received his B.A. in History in 1963 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his J.D. degree from the College of Law in 1966. He served as a Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago from 1966-67 before returning to the College as an Assistant Professor of Law in 1967. He joined the law faculty at the University of Virginia Law School in 1974, until returning to the College in 1983 as Dean. He was Acting Senior Vice Chancellor of the UNL in 1995-1996. He returned to the College faculty in 1998, was appointed Interim Chancellor of UNL in 2000 and became the 19th Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2001. He stepped down as Chancellor in 2016 and returned to his faculty position in the College of Law. He currently is a Commissioner representing Nebraska on the Uniform Law Commission, a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, and serves as Senior Consultant to the Roundtable of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters.
At the Raikes School, Professor Perlman teaches business law.