Credit for this legal definition goes to the authors of the Black Label Law Dictionary (BL1Y et. al.):
Joint tenancy: Smoking herb all day in your parents' basement
Admit it, you laughed.
And, as a great philosopher once observed, "it's funny because it's true."
Deborah Rhode suggested to me last week that one source of political pressure for reforming higher education in general and legal education in particular could come from Boomer parents, who are fed up with having their 20something kids migrate back into the suburban walkout basements that were finished in order to quarantine them during their fractious teen years. That struck me as quite plausible, given the extent of the ongoing economic disaster that has swept over the so-called Millenials.
This being America, however, it's going to take awhile before enough of those parents realize that the reason Dick and Jane (or rather Jared and Hannah) can't get a job isn't because they didn't work hard enough or smoked too much weed, but because there are no jobs. We live in a culture where people will do almost anything to avoid considering the possibility that the problems we face might be genuinely structural -- which is to say genuinely political -- as opposed to the product of tens of millions of simultaneous failures of moral character, triggered by reefer madness, or X-Box 360, or too much fast food, or so-called "rap" music, or whatever the moral panic of the moment might be.
Few things are more integral to maintaining the status quo in legal academia than this refusal to give more than lip service (if that) to structural factors. You can tell a legal academic, and especially a legal academic administrator, that half his graduates aren't going to have careers as lawyers at all, and a large proportion of the other half aren't going to be able to make enough money practicing law to come anywhere close to justifying the cost of their law degrees, and he'll nod and smile and start burbling about teaching our students networking skills, and improving the career services office, and better skills training -- all things that, to the extent they can even be accomplished, do exactly nothing about the structural problem, but rather might improve ever so slightly the prospects of the graduates of our school relative to the prospects of the graduates of other law schools.
On one level this might seem like a failure to grasp basic arithmetic -- and given the innumeracy that plagues traditional legal education that may be a factor -- but on a deeper level it's a psychological and moral failure. The psychological failure is a product of the tendency we all have to assume that our own experiences can be generalized. At one extreme this leads to absurdities such as blaming graduates for not having studied harder for the LSAT so that they could have gone to better law schools (I have actually heard a law professor do this).
This reminds me of an argument I once had with a fellow who claimed that any healthy young man could, if he were sufficiently dedicated to the necessary training, eventually run a 2:30 marathon, i.e., 26+ miles at a 5:45 per mile pace. That makes just as much sense as claiming that anybody can learn to throw down a reverse two-handed slam dunk with enough training, but this guy had turned himself from what he considered a mediocre -- actually a very fast in comparison to average humans -- marathoner into a sub-elite runner through "hard work," so he figured anyone else could do what he had done.
In fact there are people who can score a 170 on the LSAT taking it cold, and lots of others who could never score a 150 no matter how hard they practiced, but if one's one experience seems to belie that fact it will be ignored. In any case this whole line of argument is from a structural perspective simply idiotic, since 97% of American law schools would be out of business if their clientele was limited to people who finished in the top 2% of the LSAT, but that doesn't stop your basic "personal responsibility" type from making it anyway, especially if he thinks doing so might help protect his paycheck.
People -- even people in the Clueless Generation -- are beginning to realize the reason Jared and Hannah are living in the basement has almost nothing to do with personal responsibility, and everything to do with a system that doesn't work any more. And this realization is crucial to changing that system.