Cadastral Consulting, LLC, Quality Continuing Education for the Surveying, Land Use, and Design Professional

Cadastral Consulting, LLC


         Quality Continuing Education for the Surveying, Land Use, and Design Professional


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NFIP and Floodplain Management

James R. Dorsey, PLS, WRS
Biography and Classes


Jim's photo Jim Dorsey has more than 50 years of experience in boundary and title matters.  He was formerly with Right-of-Way engineering for Cal-Trans and the Department of Water Resources in California.  He served as Chief Title Officer for the California State Lands Commission and was an Assistant Vice President (corporate) for SAFECO Title Insurance Company, where he established and headed the Title Research Department and was responsible for the underwriting of the company boundary matters.  He specialized in wetland boundary problems.  He has had extensive claims experience over boundary and title matters, has served as an expert witness in most of the Western States and has served as Special Advisor to both the Arizona and California Land Title Associations on Wetland Boundaries.

Jim formerly was the Principal of James Dorsey & Associates, Land and Boundary Consultants, where his client list included, among others, the Title Insurance Industry, the State of California, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Pacific Transportation Company and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Co., all on boundary matters.  His work has involved boundary and title problems in most of the Western States, and has included extensive litigation experience as an expert witness.  He recently retired from being the Deputy County Surveyor and the Division Manager of Mapping and Development Review in the Development Services Department for Clark County, Nevada.

Jim is the author of Insuring Wetlands and a coauthor of A Study of Title Problems on Swamp and Overflowed Lands, both copyrighted ad published by SAFECO Title Insurance Company.  He has presented papers on boundaries for the California Land Surveyors Association, California Land Title Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors.  He has lectured on Boundary and title matters throughout the United States.  He is a former Expert Examiner for the Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors in California.  He has also served as a member of the Professional Practices Exam Committee on Land Surveying and Chairman of the Land Survey Committee for the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors. While serving as the Land Surveyor member of the California State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, he became the first Land Surveyor in the history of the State of California to be elected President of the Board. 

Jim has taught Legal Descriptions and Contemporary Boundary Retracement and Unwritten Property Rights for the University of California at Riverside.  He formerly taught Legal Aspects of Land Surveying and the Fundamentals of Land Surveying for the Surveying Degree program at the Community College of Southern Nevada.   He currently gives seminars on Land Surveying matters for continuing education requirements throughout the United States.

A life member and former State President of the California Land Surveyors Association, Jim is also a former member of its Board of Directors.  He is a former member of the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors where in 2004 he was named “Surveyor of the Year” and where he had served as a Director for the Southern Chapter. He is a former member of the National Society of Professional Surveyors and has served as a member of the Board of Governors. Jim is a past member of the Western Federation of Professional Land Surveyors where he served as Chairman.  He is a Professional Land Surveyor in California, Arizona (now retired) and Nevada (now retired).  He studied surveying at UCLA and is a life member of the UCLA Alumni Association.  He is named in Who’s Who in California and World Wide, and is also an Able Toastmaster.


Jim's classes
Class Descriptions

ALTA Surveys (half day or full day)

The seminar discusses the relationship between the title report and title policies to the ALTA Survey. Reviews the components of an ALTA Survey and certification considerations.

  • What a Preliminary ALTA Title Report and an ALTA Policy include and what they do not include
  • Who has the responsibilities for obtaining the information covered by the survey?
  • Evidence considerations
  • Learn about third party beneficiary and assignments
  • Review the certification and what the surveyor should not certify
  • How to help protect against claims
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Boundaries, Titles, and Constructive Notice (half day or full day)

The seminar discusses the relationship of land titles to the Statute of Frauds and "Constructive Notice" under the recording laws. The relationship of evidence within Constructive Notice, or related thereto, concerning both title and survey.

We begin with the patent process from the United States, the basics of the Public Land Survey System, and how and why it is the beginning of the chain of title.

  • How the Statute of Frauds and Constructive Notice under the recording laws define "admissible evidence" as it relates to both title and location
  • The basics of land titles needed for the Professional Land Surveyor and the various estates and interests in real property
  • Unwritten property rights
  • The difference between a corner and a monument, and why in Boundary Surveying Land Titles and Survey cannot be separated
  • How the rules of evidence work to protect the “record”: what is admissible and what might not be admissible
  • How all of the above work together as a single system to protect private land titles and boundaries
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Contemporary Boundary Retracement and Unwritten Property Rights (full day)

The seminar addresses the relationship of the chain of title with field evidence, the priority of evidence, examines the difference between the record and occupation. We will examine what is title; the definition of constructive notice, constructive notice as defined by policies of title insurance. Discover the purpose of the law for title and boundaries.

  • Unwritten property rights and how they are part of the chain of title
  • The responsibility and liability of the Professional Land Surveyor
  • The different types of evidence and what is admissible
  • The importance of working with your title insurance company
  • The difference between a corner and a monument
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Dykes v. Arnold: A Discussion of Unwritten Property Rights (2 to 4 hours)

The recent Oregon Appellate Court Case “Dykes V. Arnold” discusses many elements of unwritten property rights. Also discussed is the defense of the premise that the purpose of the law is to make land titles and the boundaries thereto permanent and stable.

The case deals with the situation where a center quarter corner was set, perhaps improperly, in the 1890's and how the owners of land within the subject section relied on the corner and in good faith built, occupied and possessed their lands based on the location.

In 2005 a new owner had his property surveyed. The surveyor found but ignored the 1890 corner and set a new center of quarter based on current federal retracement procedures.

Through group discussion, the seminar explores the principles explaining why the court held the long time existing corner and rejected the new one.

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Easements (half day or full day)

What makes an easement? Learn how easements are created and the elements thereof.

  • The difference between an easement in gross and an easement appurtenant
  • Elements necessary to create an easement by grant, by subdivision map
  • How merger of title can make an easement disappear
  • The difference between a right of way and an easement
  • How to recognize field evidence of an easement.
  • Ways to eliminate easements
  • Easements and constructive notice
  • Hints in distinguishing the difference between fee and easement

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Land Titles for the Land SUrveyor (full day)

What defines a boundary? What defines Land Title? This course is for those who are interested in what is the record for properties, constructive notice, and the relationship between the record and a legal description. Presented by surveyor who is also a former title researcher and underwriter, this course answers what a Standard Coverage Title Report or Policy includes and what an Extended Coverage Title Report or Policy includes.

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Mapping Common Interest Subdivisions (Condominiums) (full day or half day)

For all kinds of social and economic reasons, the concepts of land ownership are changing. This is especially true for condominiums and other common interest subdivisions.

This seminar will be presented in a group discussion format and will explore the various options of preparing common interest subdivisions. The topics covered include the following:

  • Why the Declarations and By Laws cannot be separated from the subdivision plat
  • The definition of condominium and common interest community
  • Define who owns the common Area. What is the difference between a condominium and other common interest communities?
  • Define access for both the dwelling unit and parking elements
  • The administrative rights of a Home Owners' Association
  • How to create Easements per the Subdivision Map
  • The difference between Common Elements and Limited Common Elements
  • Why the subdivision map must include references to other elements so the plat will stand alone
  • The elements that define the limits of the Dwelling Units
  • How to convert an existing building to a condominium

Because of the breadth and depth of this topic, it is best when presented as a full day session, although an overview can be presented in a half day.

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Railroad Rights-of-Way (half day)

The seminar discusses the difference between Congressional Grant Railroad rights of way from acquired rights of way and title and survey concerns caused by such rights of way. The seminar begins with an explanation of Congressional Grant Railroad Rights of Way and the effect they have on private title once the parent parcel has been patented by the United States . Discover how the Congressional Grant Railroad Rights of Way are outside of constructive notice under the recoding laws. Learn about the false boundary evidence. See why one needs to be very careful on the split of the rails rule.

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Reviewing Legal Descriptions (half day or full day)

The seminar discusses the relationship of the parent parcel with the parcel to be described, the necessity of protecting the "record", and why control should not differ from the record. The seminar begins with the premise that "One cannot convey an estate greater than what he owns." Learn why the Assessor's Parcel Number cannot be used as a legal description for conveyance purposes.

We will address how the preamble or caption, and the body of the description need to work together to protect the title, satisfy constructive notice. Discover the difference between a corner and a monument.

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Titles, Boundaries, Corners, and Monuments (half day or full day)

The seminar addresses the relationship of land titles to the Statute of Frauds and “Constructive Notice” under the recording laws, and the relationship of evidence concerning both title and survey. The seminar begins with acquisition by the United States , how the respective state became a part of the United States , the basics of the Public Land Survey System and how and why it is the beginning of the chain of title.

  • How the Statute of Frauds and Constructive Notice under the recording laws define “admissible evidence”.
  • The basics of land titles needed for the Professional Land Surveyor and the various estates and interests in real property
  • Unwritten property rights
  • The difference between a corner and a monument
  • Why Land Titles and Survey cannot be separated in Boundary Surveying
  • How the rules of evidence work to protect the “record” and what is admissible and what might not be admissible
  • How all of the above work together as a single system to protect private land titles and boundaries

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Title Problems Caused by Legal Descriptions (half day)

The seminar discusses title problems caused by legal descriptions. See what happens when the existing record, parent title, is not protected. We begin with a discussion of legal descriptions and why they must protect the record title, parent title. Learn the importance protecting the parent title within the chain of title. Discover if fraud is present when the legal description does not protect the record. See the conflicts created within the record whenever proper procedure is not observed.

What is Proper Procedure? That DEPENDS.

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What Comes First? The Corner or the Monument? (half day)

The seminar discusses the difference between Corners and Monuments. We begin with an explanation of Original Evidence and the authority Congress explicitly granted to the private surveyors. Discover where the monument and the corner are one and the same. We will investigate why and when they are different and how this all fits within the rules of evidence.

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page last updated February 5, 2017
Cadastral Consulting, LLC