Automatic Legal Descriptions Using Civil 3D Parcels

Today’s review has been a long time coming – I haven’t been putting it off for any particular reason, I just haven’t gotten around to it until now.    But here it is, my review of Q-Legal from Bud Miller of BudCAD.  My most sincere apologies to Bud, since this has been in my inbox since April 25 of this year.    But I promised I’d get to it, and here it is – follow the link to see what this software can do for you.

Let’s start off with what Q-Legal can do – simply put, it writes legal descriptions, and from what I’ve seen, it does that task pretty well.   The software can be ordered directly from the website, and runs $199 for a single copy or $399 for a site license (a really good deal if there’s more than one surveyor in the house.)   Q-Legal uses native Civil 3D parcels, and is compatible with Civil 3D 2007 and 2008.   It does require Microsoft Word to be installed, version 2000 or later.   It is easily customized, important for surveyors who are picky about the way their legals look (aren’t ALL surveyors picky about the verbiage in legal descriptions?)   All customization is done in a Microsoft Word file, and there are 4 main ones to set up – description header, description footer, tangent curve description, and non-tangent curve description.    Even better, MULTIPLE variations of these files can be stored for use in special situations.   

Now, we’ll take a look at the nuts and bolts of the process involved in creating a legal description.    First, you will need to define a parcel in Civil 3D – after all, you can’t describe something that doesn’t exist.    I’ve created a simple parcel of approximately 1 acre (a little less since I put a curve in the southeast corner – I wanted to illustrate curve definitions in the process.)   Here’s an illustration of my parcel:

my parcel

To create a legal description, we will need to go to the site containing this parcel, select the parcel, and go to the Analysis tab of the parcel properties.    Make sure that the Inverse Analysis radio button is selected, then go down into the analysis details, right-click, click Select All, then right-click again and select Copy.

parcel analysis

Once this is completed, we will need to go to Programs under the Start Menu and select Run Q-Legal, as shown below:

start menu

This will start Microsoft Word, where you have a few options that aren’t exactly normal in Word.    For example, I’ve never noticed the “Paste Civil 3D Parcel Data” menu at the top of a Word window, but it’s here now.   When I click that button, it pastes in the parcel data as displayed in the Analysis tab of the parcel properties.   It also brings up the Q-Legal preferences dialog box so that you can set how your legals work, as shown below:


In this dialog box, you can select the header and footer template, the format for all lines and bearing courses, any additional text in line courses, fonts and line spacing, and footer data.   Once everything is set up, the button on the lower right of the dialog box that says “CREATE A LEGAL” is the one to press to continue.   This automatically formats the analysis information that you pasted in from Civil 3D, and allows you to manually input custom information, such as location, date, etc.   These variables are defined in the header and footer templates, and you are prompted to enter the values for the variables.    Once those variables are set, you are asked for the parcel direction check (clockwise or counter-clockwise)   If the direction is correct, click YES, if not, click No, Flip It.


Once you click Yes, you will be given the chance to select the line that begins the parcel (for the point of beginning of the parcel.)  


Once you select the correct line for the point of beginning, select OK.   Then, you will be prompted for any variables that are required for your footer.  You can run through that, then a prompt to save the document is displayed, and your legal description is complete.

There are things that will need to be manually entered from this point, including a description for the point of beginning, the course points, and other various blanks that need to be filled in.  

My one complaint is the same as it is with almost any legal writer – oftentimes, the most time-consuming part of the legal to write is the land tie.   Since a land tie is not a part of the parcel, there’s no way to pick this information up and put it into the legal.   Otherwise, you’ve got a pretty decent looking legal description, as pasted below:


DESCRIPTION of a 0.98088 acre parcel of land located in the Township of Birmingham, County of Jefferson, State of Alabama in accordance with a plan entitled BOUNDARY SURVEY, dated 08/27/2008 and last revised 08/27/2008.

Said 0.98088 acre parcel being more fully described as follows:

BEGINNING AT A POINT, said point being

Thence, N 90

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