Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GWU to hold gala luncheon for departing dean

Paul Berman, who became George Washington's dean in July of last year, is leaving the position in January for a newly created job --" vice provost for online education and academic innovation" -- in GWU's central administration.

Since I've heard little about the back story of this move from my many close friends on the GWU faculty (and indeed it appears to have come as a total surprise to them), I will echo Peggy Noonan's words of wisdom and note that it would be irresponsible not to speculate. 

The timing of this move is very peculiar, especially because it's taking place right in the middle of the academic year.My guess is that soon to be ex-Dean Berman is getting out while the getting is good.  Times being what they are, any law school dean, and especially one at a trap school, needs to be on the lookout for a soft landing spot.   Berman, I suspect, has no particular desire to spend the next few years being the guy who makes the kinds of hard decisions that will need to be made at law schools like GWU to get their operating costs in some sort of rational relationship with the value of the degrees they're conferring.

University administrators get rewarded for successful empire-building, not for ceding Germania to the Visigoths.  And while Rome wasn't sacked in a day, legal education's empire is looking a lot shakier than on-line education, which, let's face it, is the face of the future in this business (Alfred North Whitehead's remark a century ago that the university has been obsolete since the invention of the printing press was merely one hundred years and one technological revolution ahead of its time).

Berman's now apparently concluded career in legal academia is a remarkable testament to the structure of the contemporary law school.  He managed to become dean of two law schools without, as far as I can determine, ever practicing law for a day in his life (He graduated from law school in 1995, did COA and SCOTUS clerkships for the next two years, then went straight onto the UCONN faculty. The most interesting aspect of his biography is that he ran what apparently is an off-off Broadway theater in NYC for about four years between Princeton undergrad and NYU law -- a job which sounds like it involved more than a few full working days).

He's apparently very good at raising money, which is what both deaning and central administrating is all about these days, so he's likely to continue to flourish in the topsy turvey world of contemporary higher ed.  That he's bailing out of legal academia at this particular moment is more than a little suggestive of which way the wind is blowing.


77 comments:

  1. I am shocked not to see him leaving to go to Davis Polk.

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  2. I think the real explanation is that Paul Berman is always on the lookout for a job where he is required to do no more than make promises about the future. He is pure carnival barker.

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    Replies
    1. I think the real explanation is that he has a contract or tenure(?) and connections. So they either can't, or don't want to, cut him loose. And they are giving him a party to put a good face on this.

      I'm sure they aren't expecting an increase in their online enrollment.

      Delete
  3. Does Berman's career add or subtract to the reputation of a SCOTUS clerkship?

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    Replies
    1. Big negative- all he could get out of it was UConn.

      Who did he clerk for?

      Delete
  4. "He managed to become dean of two law schools without, as far as I can determine, ever practicing law for a day in his life (He graduated from law school in 1995, did COA and SCOTUS clerkships for the next two years, then went straight onto the UCONN faculty."

    Unlike "professor" Campos who spent almost 12 months "practicing" law before he joined the ranks of the scammers. I'll take the COA/SCOTUS clerk over the first year associate any time.

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    Replies
    1. I bet Campos would be the first to argue he shouldn't be hired today.

      Delete
    2. More flop sweat from "professor" X.

      Delete
    3. Really? A professor's experience should translate into teachable moments for the students who will be able to use that experience in their professional lives. Therefore, the question is: How many law students will become SCOTUS law clerks and how many will become first year associates?

      I'll take a professor who has actually practiced law in a law firm over a SCOTUS law clerk any day.

      Delete
    4. I'm sure he doesn't know anything about online education either. GWU is trying to live on its rapidly dwindling prestige.

      Now he is going to be competing with the university of Phoenix.

      Delete
  5. I go to a law school that's similar to GW in many ways (what you would probably call a trap school). I've been here only a year and a half, and in that time I have seen 10 administrators, maybe more, quit. Many of them also in the middle of the year. My fellow classmates don't see anything wrong with it, but I found it disconcerting from the beginning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i was wondering what exactly a "trap school" was and then i found out it was something coined from this blog.

      here's the definition for everyone:

      "A trap school, in other words, is the kind of place that attracts the kind of highly-qualified, reasonably prudent 0Ls who would never consider attending the vast majority of law schools at anything like sticker price, and yet still ends up generating a very high risk of financial and personal disaster for its students."

      http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/02/trap-schools.html

      Delete
  6. Another "legal academic" charlatan bails out of the Titanic, and heads off in his private lifeboat.

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  7. I've been wondering why GWU is one of the few law schools that haven't released their incoming class profile. I think we can guess why. Is it really THAT bad?

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    Replies
    1. I didn't k ow that. They must have released their medians.

      Delete
  8. Plenty of Career Services office turnover, as well as Alumni Relations people. The frontline of having to deal with the actual mess.

    Now deans seem to be turning over rather quickly. Raise money?! Is that what they do? Is it possible that there are any deans actually successful at this, and, if so, can explain how that success does not lead to a corresponding skip in 6% tuition yearly raises?

    IMHO this country suffers greatly from such hierarchical management structures where there is way too much power concentrated in way too few people, who make way more than their work could ever be worth.

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  9. If I were a law school dean I would demand that insane amounts of resources be put into getting people jobs.
    Real jobs- not fake school employment.

    I would also do something about grades- I would provide tons of support to the students and expect the faculty to be responsive to student issues.

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    1. No amount of resources, no matter how "insane", will alter the fact that the law schools are producing at least two graduates for every available job. Reallocation of resources might change which particular students get jobs, but 50% or more will still never obtain professional, legal employment.

      Delete
    2. This is true. I meant that I would put resources into the students at my school. Not that the overall problem would be better.

      Delete
    3. @ 9:53, yeah, and when I'm King Of The World every good little boy will have a free ball, bat and glove, and every good little girl will get a pink unicorn.

      Delete
  10. Wasn't this dean the person who humiliated the law school by sending a letter to unilaterally decrease the pay unemployed grads were getting with " fellowships"?

    If so, let's rake up that story again. That was an outrage and put the school in a terrible light.

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    Replies
    1. Yes it was, yes it was.

      So glad to have left after 1L.

      Delete
  11. GW tuition and fees: $46,000 a year.

    Years ago I had to leave a part-time MBA program in North Carolina to take a job in the DC area. I visited the GW admissions office and asked about admissions and fees per course. The little cupcake at the desk quoted me a figure so obscenely high I thought she must have thought I asked her for the cost of a full academic load. "No, she said, that IS the tuition for one course."

    Needless to say, I took a pass on GW.

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  12. Berman was run out on a rail. This is the dictionary definition of a "soft landing."

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  13. Your trying to fit this set of facts into your ongoing meme would assume this was a voluntary move on Dean Berman's part. That he wanted to bail out of legal academia, rather than being pushed out for whichever one of a whole host of reasons -- good and bad -- that might cause a President to oust a Dean.

    I have no more inside info than you do here (which is none), but the circumstances look more like someone pushed out than someone trying to get out.

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  14. "Instead, we need to accept and perhaps even celebrate, the potentially jurisgenerative and creative role law might play in a plural world.
    Indeed, it is only if we take multiple affiliation seriously, if we seek dialogue
    across difference, if we accept unassimilated otherness, that we will have some
    hope of navigating the hybrid legal spaces that are all around us." -- Paul Schiff Berman, Toward a Jurisprudence of Hybridity, 2010 Utah L. Rev. 11, 29 (2010).

    To suggest that this visionary lower himself to the vulgar practice of law would be like asking Einstein to scrub the toilets. Similarly, the plaints of the legion of unemployed GW Law grads whom Berman sought to discipline by cutting their little nine month stipends from $15 to $10/ hr. seems so cruel and intrusive. Why should Berman waste his beautiful mind on something like that? (Cf. Barbara Bush).

    http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/06/welfare-reform.html

    I am glad that Berman has moved on from the deanship to something even more critical to the law school scam, and to higher education generally: how to justify extracting 50K per year in tuition in an age when doctrinal instruction and interactive discussion and debate can be done digitally. Hopefully, Berman's great mind will not further disturbed by human beings, as he navigates the hybrid scam swamps that are all around us.

    dybbuk

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    1. I had Berman at UConn in the mid 2000s. His class was all theory, buzzwords, and reflection. Don't think I learned one useful thing. He is amusing and a good speaker. . .just not very helpful for practicing law.

      Delete
    2. "Jurisgenerative" is, to my ears, a brand new buzzy word. I've got to admit that I had a disgraceful Beavis-and-Butthead reaction-- I thought: maybe certain kinds of sex offenders go around exposing their jurisgenitals in public.

      A quick Westlaw search of "jurisgenerative" reveals the following:

      Number of times a reviewing court has used the word "jurisgenerative" (based on an "All States & Fed" search, unrestricted as to date): Once.

      Number of times a law review article has used the word "jurisgenerative": 335.

      dybbuk

      Delete
    3. The correct phrase is not that Berman wanted to discipline students, he wanted to Discipline and Punish his students.

      Delete
  15. Speaking of the Titanic, here is an example of how keeping a pocket knife handy sure can pay off!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm7fIn5jHzU&feature=related

    Otherwise one lifeboat load of LS deans and faculty might have crused the lower one.

    I am a GOP staunch Conservative. But I voted for Obama and straight Democratic Party on a slim reed of hope that student loan reform might come about.

    All I had to go on was an old SOTU speech where Obama told the Universities to make Higher Ed. more affordable, or else the Federal Gov't would: "Cut off the money."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we do have to hope that Obama has a "Nixon goes to China" moment and cuts off the money from some of his most blind financial backers.

      Highlighting the increasingly premeditated use of IBR as the engine for endless tuition inflation will help.

      Obama's re-election notwithstanding, income taxpayers (the 51%!) are increasingly terrified and looking for exits from the dollar (which is the last American institution standing - but the one damaged when the Fed prints more and more money (QEternity) to keep interest rates from rising due to the $16 trillion debt (and rising).

      Want to get dizzy with fear?

      Think about the additional tax revenue needed for each 1% that the Fed "allows"/is forced to allow interest rates to rise.

      160 *billion* in additional interest payments.

      Each year.

      Forever.

      (Or until principal on the national debt is paid down - which might as well be forever).

      When America goes Greece (when the majority awakes to find itself hopelessly impoverished to enrich political class "elites"), law schools (and law school personnel) will burn.

      Forever.

      Delete
    2. LOL, sounds to me like you got taken twice: first by Touro, and then by Obama.

      Your loan will never be forgiven, except through IBR or public service loan forgiveness.

      Delete
  16. Any updates on what application numbers look like this year? June LSAT takers were down, and the Illinois admissions dean mentioned on TLS apps were down, but that's the only information I could get.

    One more year of double-digit declines and it's all going to come crashing down.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I must say, that I am glad I went to the law school that I did. Many of these other schools are just downright awful sounding. At Brooklyn Law School, I am amazed at the effort that is put in finding grads and alumni jobs. Also, Brooklyn Law School seems to be moving in the right direction in considering opening its own law firm to help students get real experience practicing law before graduation. Maybe it's because I am in New York, a city with a relatively healthy legal economy, but I must say, I am damn happy that I chose Brooklyn Law School.

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    Replies
    1. Do they offer scholarships to transfers?

      Delete
    2. Is this a joke? Brooklyn Law School is a mephitic toilet.

      Delete
    3. Successful Troll Succeeds AgainNovember 13, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      Congrats, Dude 11:20.

      Delete
  18. JD Junkyard provided a link to the following story:

    http://abovethelaw.com/2012/11/change-comes-to-george-washington-university-after-a-whole-bunch-of-lying/

    I wonder if the school admitting that it inflated the grades of incoming students had ANYTHING to do with the dean moving to an obscure position at the "university." That could just be a coincidence, right, trolls?!?!

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    Replies
    1. Are we reading the same article? It said the grade inflation occurred at the college, not the law school.

      Delete
    2. ^^^^^^ Why do you think poor Fernie couldn't find a job?

      No reedin comp skilz.

      Delete
    3. Usually the same pressure is on the law schools to lie as it is on the undergrad. Even more so in law, because of the rankings.

      I'm glad that the LSAC can now monitor the true LSAT and GPA numbers of law school students

      Delete
  19. JD Junkyard forum has an item today re: GWU admitting to falsifying stats on its entering class (claiming a false % of students in the top 10% undergrad). Wonder if this has anything to do with it . . .

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    Replies
    1. Probably not since the falsified data you're referring to came from the undergrad school. Jesus at least read the article.

      Delete
    2. 4:21 - you might try reading yourself. 11:51 specifically mentioned it related to undergrad.

      Delete
    3. No. "claiming a false % of students in the top 10% undergrad" clearly refers to a false claim about students being in the top 10% of their undergrad class. Why else would 11:51 also query whether that had anything to do with the dean of the law school's departure?

      Delete
  20. I thonk you're wrong to embrace online education, LawProf. I've looked at online courses and they are a joke way to learn. Far better to read a book.
    Anyway, the GW news certainly is interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  21. http://abovethelaw.com/2012/11/more-about-dean-bermans-departure-from-gw-law-school/

    So it appears that the Dean angered the faculty by mistreating the staff in his attempts to change the law school in response to the legal education crisis.

    Most likely, the Dean was attempting to cull administrative bloat, perhaps in a way that would have resulted in more work or less assistance for the faculty.

    This is just another example of how disingenuous tenured faculty are being when they claim they have "no control" over the governance of the law school and couldn't decide to lower tuition or cut class size even if they wanted to.

    All the while GW students are cutting tuition checks.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not cutting GW anymore tuition checks...

      Delete
    2. Excellent point.

      Law professors who claim they are:
      1. powerless to change the tuition charged to students, and
      2. so in demand by top firms that they must be paid accordingly,
      should now become the focus of the scam movement.

      Delete
    3. Agreed. This is clearly a case of an archaic academic stratocracy exerting their power over the administration's attempts to change the focus of legal education to account for the dwindling traditional legal market. I know that many others agree that while Berman may have made some minor errors (as any leader of any organization does time to time), he was on the path to positioning GW Law at the forefront of a changing legal market. The faculty clearly would rather live in the clouds than accept changes that will provide students like me with a greater opportunity of applying my legal education to a career outside of the traditional scope of private or public sector law practice. This should serve as a wake up call to all law students that we need to take a hard look at who is really at the forefront of the law school scam.

      Delete
  22. Dear Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity:

    I am sorry, but the Republicans did not seem to give a damn about Student Loan Debtors at all.

    And so I voted against my own political party, in the hope that President Obama might bring some relief to the current day USA Student Lending Human Rights Tragedy.

    Clint Eastwood probably made up my mind for good on all of the above when he made fun of SL debtors while talking to an empty chair.

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    Replies
    1. lets see. obamacare threatens about 800,000 jobs. 20,000 or so law schools thought they were special snowflakes and would be able to get a decent job. they were wrong and now cant pay their students loans. yeah, that's a smart decision.

      i'm sure those 800,000 unemployed people will be lining up for legal services.

      Delete
    2. The GOP's stance on the issue is something along the lines of "once they get those student loans paid off and get moved into a nice 3-story house they will come back over to our side."

      Delete
  23. Whoever Joan King is, there are lots of other people who have the same thoughts as she is expected to.

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  24. this school should be making MASSIVE cuts.. get rid of half the faculty and at least shrink to 200 students and preferebly lower..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They'd certainly move up in the rankings if they did...

      Delete
  25. Jurisdegenerate Dean Paul Schill BermanNovember 13, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Good luck in your future, uh, future.

    ReplyDelete
  26. From 10:42 AM above, this quote from Berman:

    "Instead, we need to accept and perhaps even celebrate, the potentially jurisgenerative and creative role law might play in a plural world.
    Indeed, it is only if we take multiple affiliation seriously, if we seek dialogue
    across difference, if we accept unassimilated otherness, that we will have some
    hope of navigating the hybrid legal spaces that are all around us." -- Paul Schiff Berman, Toward a Jurisprudence of Hybridity, 2010 Utah L. Rev. 11, 29 (2010).

    WTF? Is this Dilbert?

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    Replies
    1. I'm willing to bet you are the only person, other than law review staff at Utah, who has read, or attempted to read, that article.

      Delete
  27. http://abovethelaw.com/2012/11/change-comes-to-george-washington-university-after-a-whole-bunch-of-lying/

    Sorry, posted in wrong article before.

    ReplyDelete
  28. LustyLarryLikesItInTheToiletNovember 13, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Lemmings would be better served attending a university named after George Jefferson. He was a self made job creator in a viable industry. At least learning how to run a dry.cleaning chain from someone who.had experience would be worth some tuition cost.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Those "gala luncheons" are insufferable to go to for someone who hasn't stepped on his wanker and ended his career. Can you imagine what this one will be like?

    ReplyDelete
  30. why are there no George Washington Law and University of Washington Law jokes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because $46,000 per year in tuition kills one's sense of humor

      Delete
  31. from jdu:


    http://jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=36971

    Highlights of Thomas Jefferson 4th amended complaint (after discovery opened!!)


    Just before graduation, TJSL interviews its graduating students. This “exit interview” is mandatory for all graduating students. During the exit interview, TJSL obtains employment data for each graduating student. Thus, TJSL knows the employment status of every student at graduation. Nevertheless, TJSL reftised to report a figure for “employed at graduation” to US News for every year from 2002-2012, even though that information was readily available. In the 2013 edition, TJSL reported that “graduates whose employment status is unknown” was 71 percent (and that TJSL only had employment data for 29 percent of its graduates).

    ...

    Loomis was unemployed for the first two years after she graduated from TJSL. TJSL, though, reported Loomis as employed. Specifically, TJSL reported that Loomis was employed at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. Loomis never worked at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. Loomis graduated from TJSL with $200,000 in debt. That figure has since increased
    to approximately $220,000 in principal and interest because she has been unable to pay down her loans.

    ...

    For the Class of 2006, there was a direct correlation between a graduate’s
    employment status and his or her last name. Graduates whose last names started with A through N were all employed; graduates whose names started with S and T were all studying for the Bar Examination; and graduates whose last names started with W were all unemployed. (TJSL recently admitted that its purported data for the Class of 2006 was inaccurate).


    TJSL has classified a pool cleaner, waiters and waitresses, and
    26 retail store clerks as working in jobs requiring a law degree. ... TJSL admits that its policy is to categorize all unskilled labor positions as “business/industry,” including TJSL graduates who are employed as a stripper, cocktail waitresses, and restaurant servers.


    ...

    TJSL reports median salary figures based on only a handful of graduates who self-report. For instance, in 2009 and 2010, TJSL reported that the median salary for its graduates was approximately $60,000. These figures were based on responses from only 14 percent and 12 percent of graduates, respectively.
    =============



    is there a link????????????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If true, this stuff is killer.

      Delete
    2. If I were going to commit fraud of that sort, I'd choose X rather than W as the letter for the unemployed group.

      Delete
  32. I don't have any knowledge of this fellow Berman, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he took the Dean's job under the "old model" approach to the job, meaning he was there to raise money, market the school, keep the tuition money from hapless student conduits of taxpayer backed funds, and engage in image building. Let's assume too that as things go he did an acceptable job at these tasks.

    These skill sets seem totally unsuited for the challenge at hand. GW Law school needs an operational and financial specialist who is willing to completely disrupt the overhead structure of the school. That is likely in very few administrator's DNA. I don't really see who would really want to take this job at this juncture. He or she would have to have incredible support from the President of the University to support massive change and downsizing. Because of tenure and the entitled attitude of the staff, it is an almost impossible job.

    I know this seems like an unduly negative view, but the actual tuition paid here must be plummeting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about the scandals? He embarrassed the school badly, twice. I don't see that as doing a good job and that is at least part of the reason he was fired.

      Delete
    2. IMHO, I think those "scandals" were no more than a minor speed bump in Berman's time as the Dean. I completely agree with the first post that a large school like GW needs a major overhaul in order to survive both the reduction in the number of legal jobs and law school applicants as a whole while maintaining its position as a major player in the rankings.

      I think it's clear that he was trying to introduce these sorts of changes and the law school faculty was simply not having it. What's really necessary is an overhaul of the entire old-fashioned tenure system and that would seem to be the next logical step -- the faculty likely saw this coming with the changes he had already instituted. They clearly just want to maintain a system of milking students for everything their worth to maintain their salaries. The admitted body this year already dropped from about 550 to 400 or so.

      Delete
  33. OT, but worth a read. Linds Redding, Fatally Ill Ad Executive, Blogs About Wasting Life On Work http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/11/13/linds-redding-ad-executive-dying-cancer/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl5%7Csec3_lnk3&pLid=234351&a_dgi=aolshare_facebook

    ReplyDelete
  34. As a GW student I was shocked to hear that Dean Berman was leaving because, from what I understand, most of my fellow students really like him. Not to mention, the faculty and administration that I've heard speak about the Dean have always held him in a very favorable light.

    This all is very disconcerting because the Dean had developed a personal relationship with many of us. Many of my fellow students and I meet with him regularly to talk about our future professional careers and to ask for academic advice. I haven't heard of a single dean at any academic institution that takes such an interest in every student's success, not to mention law school.

    Personally, I was never interested in big-law and felt that most of the law schools at GW's level that I considered going to made this their sole focus. It was Dean Berman's personal phone call that he made to me over the summer that inspired me to attend GW, telling me about the changes he was making that involved a broader focus of the applicability of a legal education to a variety of careers, and a new program for incoming 1L's intended to help us begin marketing ourselves for future careers right from the get-go. A number of my peers and I also participate in a program he set up that matches us with successful practitioners in our fields - this connection continues to be very helpful for me.

    I just hope that whoever it is they decide to bring in next follows through with the Dean's efforts to maintain meaningful, personal relationships with students and make changes to prepare us all for the contracting legal market. Hopefully they maintain a policy of focusing on helping students make connections with employers from the start of their legal educations, obtaining real world experience, and eventually placing graduates in a variety of careers where somebody with a legal education is desired (outside of the traditional law firm route).

    Without the administration taking these progressive steps in the right direction for the future of our legal education, I see a major backtrack in store for the future of this program. Hopefully he'll still have some sort of a say in the law school's future from his new position.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I think you made bright resolution when you selected this theme of this blog article of yours over here. Do you as a rule compose your blog posts by yourself or you have a business partner or even a helper?

    ReplyDelete

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