ALUMNI PROFILE Pamela Izvănariu

Effecting change through academic law

Pamela Izvănariu loves school. So much so that after receiving a JD from Loyola in 2007, she pursued an LLM at UCLA in critical race studies and international and comparative law and a master’s and a PhD in sociology from CUNY Graduate Center, which she will complete next year.

After spending so much time as a student, it comes as no surprise she chose a career in legal academia. She recently joined the faculty at the University of Dayton School of Law as an assistant professor of law and sociology.

“My career in legal academia is the best way for me to do the good work in the world that I want to do,” said Izvănariu, a recipient of the 2016 Kennedy Center Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award.

Growing up in an immigrant family and community, Izvănariu witnessed social injustice and the societal and institutional constraints that keep hard-working people from getting ahead. Her law and public policy work look deep into issues involving labor, immigration, and criminal justice through the lenses of social and political inequality, power, and politics.

“[Loyola professors] invested time and effort into helping me navigate the road to legal academia.”

She credits her former Loyola law professors Steven Ramirez,and Sasha Coupet with guiding her along the way.

As a student, both told her to prepare for a long journey, explaining the practical reality of the hypercompetitive field of becoming a law professor. “Professors Ramirez and Coupet invested time and effort into helping me navigate the road to legal academia,” she said. “They’ve been instrumental in my success and I’m very grateful.”

Coupet recalled that when Izvănariu was enrolled in her Advanced Issues in Child Law course, she was approaching ostensibly “legal” issues from a particularly broad, holistic, and interdisciplinary perspective.

“Her chosen research topic on the use of customary law to secure language rights of indigenous parents and children was both creative in its approach and sophisticated in its analysis, demonstrating to me how well Pamela could weave together the cultural and sociological dimensions of legal intervention.”

Fighting for immigrant, and marginalized workers

Prior to joining Dayton, Izvănariu served as the director of research and development at UCLA’s Institute for Research and Labor Education and then as director of the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University in Miami. Her work embraced the integration of research, policy, and pedagogy to inform scholarship and teaching, generate resources, and impact law and policy on issues relevant to low wage, immigrant, and marginalized workers and their communities.

She conducted ethnographic research on and interviews with Uber and Lyft drivers, most of whom are immigrant workers and workers of color. She found that no matter how responsible and driven they are, the systemic obstacles placed in their way make it nearly impossible to succeed.

“Misclassified as independent contractors, many workers are not even making minimum wage and are also prevented from accessing labor law protections and other safety-net protections,” she explained.

Her academic research is part of a larger effort to shed light on the extent of injustice, the deterioration of labor law, growing worker precariousness, and increasing corporate political power. Today, she is working on a book about worker experiences and law in the rideshare sector.

“Law helped create these problems of inequality and injustice and I want to show how it can also be part of the solution to address the same.”

Now that she’s a faculty member who focuses on social justice and service, she offers her students the same interest and intensity that her mentors at Loyola offered her. “I take seriously the idea of building community for my students. They are, after all, my future colleagues. I am incredibly blessed.”


Loyola University Chicago School of Law faculty members are renowned experts in their fields—and their research not only advances knowledge, it also furthers social justice, transforms law and public policy, explores the legal implications of new technologies, and pushes the parameters of emerging trends in the law. Learn more