LegalWorks by DotSoft

LegalWorks by DotSoft, is a utility program used to create legal descriptions from line work in an AutoCAD drawing. This program is highly and quickly customizable, and is an easy to use method for creating the framework of a description.

After the linework for a parcel has been created in AutoCAD, either a polyline or a group of lines and arcs that represent the parcel to be described is selected. LegalWorks then writes the description based on a series of rules that can be customized (Figure 1). It also displays parcel closure information based on the final dimensions that are in the description. The program provides a text editor but the resulting description can also be copied into a word processing program.

Customizing LegalWorks is easy, but requires a little bit of trial and error to get things to work the way you want them. The setup screen has a series of templates for different sections of a description, such as the beginning and ending of a reference tie, and the description body. Templates for lines and curves, a title, preamble, and a closing paragraph are available as well.

Each template is constructed of pre-defined keywords that insert into your text. Numerous keywords are available to describe each item and are displayed in a convenient pull-down menu. (Figure 2) The normal enhancements such as italicize, bold, and underline can be used as well. Another menu is provided to control the precision of the numbers displayed, select unit,s and select how to describe directions. For example, you can specify North 10 degrees 20 minutes East, or N 10 20'E, or any other combination.

As you set up the templates to suit your needs, you can quickly prepare a new description to see if it suits you, and then change it again and again until you are satisfied. The set of templates can be saved, providing the flexibility to have multiple templates for different municipalities, purposes, or users. Having used similar programs in the past, I found it took about 30 tries in 10 minutes until I was satisfied with my initial setup. As an example, Figures 3 and 4 show the same lot described first with the default settings, and then again after it was customized.

LegalWorks creates the base framework of the description but the resulting text may still need some work to finish it up. Specific calls for adjoiners, record maps, evidence, and the like may need to be added. Because there is only one template for circular curves, some types of geometry such as non-tangent curves, points of reverse, or compound curvature may not have the correct wording.

Also included is a parcel manager, allowing for multiple lots to be worked on at once (Figure 5). The parcel manager is straightforward and easy to use, with all the tools required to manage multiple parcels. The software also has a utility for the manipulation of polylines, so that their directions can be reversed.

This program does not require any other surveying software to run inside AutoCAD. Regardless of how you created the linework, it can prepare the description from it. There is an option to import lots from Autodesk Land Desktop, but those features are not included in this review.

A viewable manual, available both as a PDF file or an HTML file, provides good instructions and illustrations. I found the program intuitive enough that I didn't need the manual much at all.

LegalWorks runs inside AutoCAD 2000 and above (not LT), and adds a button menu to the screen which controls all features. It operates very quickly, and appears to add minimal overhead to AutoCAD. This review was of LegalWorks 1.0, which sells for $195 for the first seat.

Overall, LegalWorks does everything it can be expected to do very nicely. Although it cannot write a completely finished description automatically, it is a tool that can create the bulk of it, reducing the chances for errors, and increasing efficiency.

About the Author

  • James White, PLS
    James White, PLS
    Jim White owns a private practice in Schenectady, New York that provides surveying and software development services.

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