Saturday, March 26, 2005

Get a F*&$%#> Survey

We all know clients love to tell lawyer jokes, but do lawyers tell client jokes? I can’t say I ever heard one in almost 30 years of law practice, but maybe that ought to change. I offer my contribution below.

This may not make sense if you come from a state that derives its property descriptions from townships and ranges. But the system for describing Texas land was set by the Spanish and Mexican governments, and we do not generally use townships and ranges. If land has been platted, it can be described by lot and block, but if not, metes and bounds prepared by a surveyor are necessary. And surveyors don’t work cheaply. I suspect I am not the only Texas lawyer wearied of saying, “Yes, you really do need a survey. I know it’s expensive, and I’m sorry, but we’ve got to have it.”

With that introduction, consider this law firm voice mail system:

--ring----ring----ring----ring--

Good morning. You have reached the Offices of Joe Dirt, Lawyer. We cannot take your call right now, but we value your business.

If you wish us to prepare any instrument affecting title to real estate, please press one.

--1--

To prepare such documents properly, we will need several pieces of information, but the one that causes the most trouble is a legal description. If your property has been platted, we can use the lot and block number, but otherwise we will need metes and bounds prepared by a surveyor.

If you do not have a lot and block number but still don’t want to hire a surveyor, please press two.

--2--

I’m sorry, but a survey is essential to describing the affected land accurately. I know a survey will cost more than you want to spend, but we don’t have a good alternative.

If you are not satisfied with this answer, please press three.

--3--

I understand your reluctance, but an instrument affecting title to real estate that does not adequately describe the land is void. The only way to accomplish what you want is to hire a surveyor.

If you are not satisfied with this answer, please press four.

--4--

As much as you might like for me to, I can’t sit in my office with your diagram and make up metes and bounds. For one thing, it’s legal malpractice. For another, it’s the unauthorized practice of surveying. What? You didn’t think surveyors had lobbyists, too?

If you are not satisfied with this answer, please press five.

--5--

Please. We really want to help, but we need certain basic information to do our job professionally. A proper property description is right at the top of the list. Hiring a surveyor is the only way to get that.

If you are not satisfied with this answer, please press six.

--6--

Look, life’s a bitch, but get a f*&$%#> survey. That’s how the cow ate the cabbage.

If you are not satisfied with this answer, please press seven.

--7--

Damn! What part of GET A SURVEY don’t you understand! To have gotten this far through the menu, you must prefer fantasy to reality.

If you wish to proceed deeper into fantasy, please press eight.

--8--
--ring----ring----ring----ring--

“Good morning. Democratic National Committee.”

Postscript: There. Now I feel better, at least until the next time I have to have this conversation, which probably won't be until Monday morning, today being Saturday.

To reply, email texthepontificator at yahoo dot com.

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