At Law Dogs in Van Nuys, Calif. you can get your franks with or without mustard. With or without sauerkraut. With or without a writ of habeas corpus. From 7 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday, Law Dogs owner Kim Pearman serves up legal counsel as well as red hots. Why? “Why not? I thought it would be fun,” says the prosperous real estate attorney. “Lawyers take themselves too seriously.”
While the verdict isn’t in yet on Pear-man’s sense of humor, the jury is obviously hung up on his hot dogs. Pearman’s first Law Dogs emporium opened about two years ago in Van Nuys; there are now six in the L.A. area, selling some six tons of hot dogs a week. Among the offerings: Plaintiff Dogs (plain and simple, $1), Police Dogs (with sauerkraut, $1), Jury Dogs (with mustard, $1) and Judge Dogs (with chili sauce, $1.25).
Like Pearman’s menu, his legal advice is of the basic no-frills variety. Pearman tells people whether they should litigate, advises them about what kind of lawyer they need and helps them fill out legal forms. “Most of the people who come in here,” he says, “have standard litigation problems—small claims, tenant-landlord, bankruptcy, you name it.” Since December 1982 Pearman estimates he’s seen about 2,000 “clients” personally.
Pearman, 45, first decided L.A. could use a few more hot dog stands when he once spent 10 minutes waiting on line for a wiener. The idea for a stand that serves the public’s legal appetite as well was inspired, frankly, by his need for diversion. “When I went to law school,” explains the UCLA grad, “I thought practicing law would be exciting, like Perry Mason. Then I got out and discovered it was boring. I never got to talk to the local people.”
Pearman’s kids, Kary, 13, and Robert, 16, aid and abet the kennel master by working part-time at Law Dogs; his wife, Carol, has just finished law school. Not unsentimental, Pearman offers a 50 percent discount to lawyers, whether they need it or not. “Everyone hates lawyers,” says Pearman. “I thought they should know that somewhere, somebody likes them.”