Aside from the obvious there is a primary difference, from the client’s perspective, between an attorney and a surveyor — namely advocacy. When one hires an attorney they rightly expect to be retaining a professional advocate for their position. In hiring a surveyor, one may be expecting the same thing but it is not so. While it may be surprising to some, the surveyor is not an advocate for his client’s position. A surveyor is bound to formulate an objective, professional opinion based on all the available evidence, even if the opinion is unfavorable to his client.
“Surveyors create evidence, recover evidence and interpret evidence of boundaries. Attorneys argue evidence of boundaries.”
Brown’s Boundary Control and Legal Principles, 5th Edition, p. 416
“A surveyor should strive equally as hard to prove not only the position he or she is trying to prove but also the opposing view.”
Evidence and Procedures for Boundary Location, 4th Edition, p. 16
The surveyor is a seeker of the truth, an investigator who must go where the evidence leads. In the event of a boundary dispute, this fact often causes conflict between surveyor and client. How can the client know that he is going to hire a surveyor who is “on his side?” He cannot.
That is not to say that one cannot be found. Many surveyors are confused about their own role in locating boundaries and do (wrongly) advocate for the person who hires them. The question should be asked: Is that the surveyor I want to hire? A surveyor of this type is not a knowledgeable professional and may actually be dishonest.
It is constantly necessary for a good surveyor to guard against biases and look at all sides of an issue in reaching an opinion. This is really a benefit to the client since it may keep one from going to court with an indefensible position. On the other hand, if the knowledgeable surveyor reaches a conclusion favorable to the client, then one enters the courtroom with confidence that the evidence does indeed support one’s case.