She earned her Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Banking and Finance magna cum laude at Saint Paul College of Manila and earned her law degree from the Ateneo Law School graduating as Class Salutatorian in 1976.
She passed the bar examination in 1977 with a bar rating of 85.156%. Justice Perlas-Bernabe has served the Judiciary as Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati City from January 2000 to March 2004, Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of the same City from March 1996 to January 2000, and as Technical Assistant in the Office of the Court Administrator, Supreme Court of the Philippines from 1977 to 1979. Bernabe was the third appointee of President Benigno Aquino III to the Supreme Court of the Philippines as an associate justice on September 16, 2011.
She replaced then Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, who retired from the Bench on June 19, 2011 to assume the position of Ombudsman of the Philippines.