On Monday, I returned from an overseas trip which was 22 hours door to door. On Tuesday, I posted out Lines of Record Title v. Boundary Lines linked [HERE]. Today, I received word that it set off a number of comments at this Surveyor’s Connect Site [HERE].

Admittedly, it would have been better if I had conducted a better spelling scrub before publishing. So comments regarding that aspect of the post, while warranted by those who were unwilling to read past the first few lines before determining that my argument must also be similarly flawed, certainly are entitled to their opinion … because they were too lazy to attempt to discern what I was seeking – albeit not cogently – to convey …

Wait, wait scratch “convey” – because that word is a legal term which might get misconstrued by those seeking to place precision above all else –  let’s use instead the term “express.”

Fortunately, the initial pin heads drew in enough interest that those willing to look beyond precision in an effort to “divine” the accuracy of what I was seeking to express latter came in and helped move the discussion forward.

I’ll let those folks speak both more accurately and more artfully where I obviously failed.

So, let’s move now to the discussion that I have identified in the above title.

Are you a surveyor who has a knee-jerk aversion to most – if not all – lawyers or not.

Though the line is not generally starkly identified right in front of my nose, I’ve spent enough time beyond the legal community and alongside the survey community here in Washington State to recognize the following:

(1) Surveyors generally are not keen on litigators;

(2) Most attorneys, including many in real property, don’t understand the interrelated legal concepts which come to bear upon questions of survey, title insurance, real property purchase and sale, and zoning;

(3) Beyond their survey expertise, a fair number of surveyors are not much more advanced than lawyers in the above regards.

(4) Neither surveyors nor litigators have much knowledge or regard for the emotional, financial, and temporal hardship which the current means of solving boundary dispute issues is played out … in court.

To the last point, I am to understand without seeking to cite reference … yes, another legal sin for which I must tonight go to my maker to receive absolve … that the majority of professionals in both fields are introspective and introverted.

So what! There is business to be had in resolving boundary line issues.

Creation of a better system in which to do this both with economy of time and money in a manner which reduces the [irrational] emotionality associated with boundary disputes benefits both professions.

But guess what? It would benefit the survey community more.

The reason for this is because whereas there may be a reduction of fees for surveyors as expert witnesses, there would be a much more significant volume of surveys if a practical path to resolution were paved … whereas at present a viable path for boundary dispute resolution is not available to the majority of our shared clients.

That is unless you are someone that thinks those extra few feet along the LINE OF RECORD TITLE is worth dust-up likely running in the 10s of thousands of dollars.

Think I’m making this up? Here’s a quote from a prospective client I received this week regarding [potential] encroachments of a fence and a deck built onto their property.

We know we cannot let this go now that the survey has documented these conditions.

I don’t know more about the facts yet than this. I do know that whereas I will likely be able to determine in quintile percentages within 1.5 hours of research and conversation how the matter will likely play out if it goes to court. Obviously that opinion is not guaranteed.

But the meager amount I charge for that initial consult – currently $450 – is a far better spend than going to a “free” initial consultation in which the lawyer’s job is to sink the hook so they can hard charge at their clients neighbor by seeking to go to “TRY-ALL”.

[Damn, a mixed metaphor! My apologies again to the pin heads that have deigned to read so far. Gosh! You’re really going to need to stretch yourself to understand what I have sought to express now … aren’t you?]

Returning, the reason why my approach is better is because there is a fair chance I’ll honestly convince the prospect that his or her chances of securing a victory are dim. As a result, it then becomes clear that it is in their best interest to recognize there is probably a better approach to resolve the problem.

For me, that’s when both the hard work – and the fun – begins.

So, let me lay it down like this. I’m very different than most attorneys.

To be absolutely honest, I recognize – and I believe rightfully so – that any boundary dispute case which is going to trial … is already a loser.

Very recently I was sent an article in which my most idolized historical figure was believed to have wrote the following in preparation for a law lecture sometime on or about July 1, 1850:

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.

Who came up with that? Well, the lecture preparation date provided above should help. But, here’s another clue. This man was a professional not only in law, but he performed survey work as well.

Still not got it; how about this? He was wise enough to know when to fight to obliterate boundaries which gave refuge to bigotry and hatred.

He’s none other than President Abraham Lincoln.

Yea, Honest Abe knew both when it was time to fight and when it was time for peace.

So ask yourself – be you a surveyor or a lawyer – what do you spend your “time” promoting?

Abject wimps devote their time on the former. They are mercenaries who flee when the going gets rough because they just can’t hack it. It’s too tough!

This type of surveyor usually stabs the ground and then kicks the problem over to the attorney … without more.

This type of attorney usually kicks the problem down to the newest associate.

That is unless the attorney – possibly in cahoots with the surveyor – isn’t indifferent but rather actually relishes the pain the legal process inflicts on their clients.

That’s not me though. I invite those surveyors who want to collaborate to work out solutions in localized cases and to systemically seek to figure out a better system. Maybe now that I’ve expressed that in clearer terms, I deserve to be viewed as the pariah that surveyors generally blanket upon my profession.

This is not merely a single win for me. It’s not “twin win” for me and the surveyor. It’s doesn’t yet stop as a triple win between me, the surveyor, and our respective clients. No, this is at least a quadruple win in that it is also beneficial to the neighbor before moving on more positively to other professionals and society as a whole which is benefited by not having the court system clogged with such petty cases.

Think judges want to waste 2 or 3 days deciding who owns what? Maybe it’s time for you to come out of your cave filled with spelling bees so you can take in the big picture!

To the wise surveyors and dirt lawyers out there – and I know there are quite a number of you – I invite you to work together to develop more business while at the same time better serving our clients. It’s far past time to develop a better system of boundary dispute resolution.

Why? Because regardless of your profession … your business is relationships. Relationships matter.

  1. Your relationship with your Maker – which is up to you to define;
  2. Your relationship with your Spouse – which was a choice you made … or not;
  3. Your relationship with your Children – another big choice;
  4. Your relationship with your Parents – sorry can’t help you there; and yes …
  5. Your relationship with your Neighbors – the work which, when you strip away all over-rationalization, is what surveyors and residential dirt lawyers do.

Hope the language in this post is not too tough to comprehend for the plumbobs out there.

If it is, try flossing … between your ears.

Heck while your at it, make sure you scrape your occipital lobe as well. Cheers!