Cornerstone Information Services, Inc. is a freelance paralegal company specializing in real estate research. Cornerstone researches records of state, county, cities, and local agencies primarily pertaining to real estate for attorneys, land surveyors, engineers, individuals, and public and private businesses.
Founded in 1986, Cornerstone Information Services, Inc. was the first company in the southeastern United States to offer research services exclusively to professional land surveyors. In 1987 the Corporation extended its services to include title exams and a variety of real estate services.
Founded as Legal Researchers, Inc., the corporate name was changed in 1993 toCornerstone Information Services.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Cornerstone specializes in complex, litigated, and disputed title exams on industrial, commercial and residential properties for and under the supervision of attorneys. Research is performed primarily within the tri-county area, with the larger percentage of title exams being acreage titles of 62 years or more.
Cornerstone specializes in "problem-solving" research. Usual research projects include unknown ownership of various properties such as streets, roads, drainage easements, gaps of land between subdivisions, strips of land without tax ID numbers; property line disputes, and improperly county-mapped parcels. This specialized research is not restricted to documents recorded in the county record office but uses all resources useful to solving the problem including utility company records, state and district departments of transportation, local and state archives, historical societies, and libraries.
Right-of-Way, Utility & Surveying Research
Cornerstone is contracted by utility companies through their attorneys and/or land surveyors to perform research ranging from title exams on individual lots to document assimilation or extensive utility corridors.
Cornerstone is uniquely qualified to fill the research and communication gap between land surveyors and attorneys/title abstractors.
Cornerstone conducts research in county, state, and private holdings to establish the history of plantations. Current properties and marshlands are taken back to the King’s Grant and plantations are recreated as they originally existed. Residual lands can be identified, a history of the property developed, and owners determined.
Environmental Site Assessments and Suits
Cornerstone assists environmental engineers in conducting Phase I ESA research, ranging from 50-year ownership searches to searches back to "virgin land". Research includes establishing chains of title, identifying recorded transactions that reveal land use; research of maps and plats identifying where the activity occurred; and utility tap dates.
Cornerstone Cornerstone manages the project on site or at its office, while acting as an arm of the contractor and representing its interests. The strong organization skills of its employees are the key to Cornerstone's successful management and completion of these projects.
Homeowners’ Association Packages
Cornerstone obtains ownership information from county records of lots within subdivisions to assist Homeowners’ Associations in collecting dues and determining membership. Cornerstone prepares exhibit notebooks for HOA’s which contain individual lot information--current owner, address and deed--copies of subdivision plats, restrictive covenants and amendments, and current tax maps. Lot ownership information is entered and maintained on a computerized database for flexibility in sorting into various formats and ease in editing annual updates.
SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED PROJECTS:
Industrial and Commercial Title Exams
E.L. Frierson School, Wadmalaw Island, Charleston County, SC
WCIV-TV, Mt. Pleasant, SC
North Charleston Center f/k/a Grant City North, North Charleston, SC
Sentry Buick, Charleston, SC
Charleston County Incinerator, Charleston, SC
Nucor (Steel) Corporation, Hagan, Woodland and Moreland Plantations, 5000 acres, Berkeley County, SC
North Charleston County Park, The Elms Plantation, 1015 acres, Charleston, SC
County Park, Tang and Burbage Tracts 306 acres, Edisto Island, SC
Trident Technical College campus expansion, Jackson Tract, 117 acres, Charleston, SC
Ergste Westig of America, Inc., Tri-County Industrial Park, Dorchester County, SC
Winn-Dixie Shopping Center, Walterboro, SC
K-Mart, Oakbrook Commercial Development Summerville, Dorchester County, SC
Teepak, Inc., Tri-County Industrial Park, Dorchester County, SC
Cainhoy Park, Daniel’s Island, Berkeley County, SC
Crowfield Corporate Center, Westvaco Development Corporation, 300 acres, 106 years, 1700 conveyances, Berkeley County, SC
Shannon Park residual property, Goose Creek, Berkeley County, SC
Residential Title Exams
36 lots, Wild Dunes, Charleston, SC
50 lots, Crawford Place Subdivision, Edisto Island, SC
All lots, Darrell Creek Subdivision, Phases I & II, Edisto Island, SC
150 Delinquent Tax titles, Charleston, SC
Crowfield Plantation, Goose Creek, Berkeley County, SC
Title exam to fee simple property covered by reservoir waters from 1905, Berkeley County, SC
Title exam of waters of a reservoir from 1903, Berkeley County, SC
Study of a man-made reservoir created in the early 1900’s, including identifying the 34 plantations effected by the waters, ownership of the lands lying under the waters, easements acquired, and any existing gaps, Goose Creek Reservoir, Charleston and Berkeley Counties, SC
Determine ownership of triangular-shaped parcel on Berkeley/Charleston County line, SC, 100 years
History of subdivision development and current ownership of lots straddling boundary line between 2 subdivision phases, Berkeley County, SC
Ownership of lots, Lake Hastie a/k/a Lake Dennis, Berkeley County, SC
Determine ownership of strip of land adjacent to I-526, Charleston County, SC
Research of road and adjoiners in a 500 acre area, for proposed closing of the road, Charleston, SC
Title exams of drainage easements and drainage canal, Colonial Heights Subdivision, Berkeley County, SC
Determine ownership of Seabrook Drive, Ladson, Berkeley County, SC
Establish history of two tracts for 53 years and prove their location on tax map by working with land surveyors, coordinate geometry software, and adjoining parcels, Georgetown County, SC
Determining unsold parcels of Pine Forest Country Club (500+ acres subdivided into 262 lots, 15 phases/blocks, 6 subdivision names, and golf courses), Dorchester County, SC
Ownership, access and rights to streets and rights-of-way on Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, SC
Laidlaw landfill, Pinewood, SC
Properties held by Harold Tyner and Tyner entities, Charleston and Berkeley Co., SC
Numerous roadbed title exams to determineownership, Berkeley and Charleston Counties, SC
Determine ownership of Pumpkin Lane, Mt.Pleasant, Charleston County, SC, and testifying in court.
Right-of-Way, Utility & Surveying Research
Writing 37 bearing and distance property descriptions for utility corridor, Daniel Island, Berkeley County, SC
86 parcels, deed, plat and owner research, Mark Clark Expressway, Charleston, SC
56 parcels, deed, plat and owner research, James Island Connector, James Island, SC
23 title exams, East Cooper Water Project Phase I, Berkeley County, SC
56 parcels, deed, plat and owner research compiled into individual tract files, SC
Public Service Authority, Berkeley Co., SC
28 title exams, P.S. #47 Improvements Project, Berkeley County, SC
3 mile section of Sangaree Parkway, deed, plat and owner research, Southern Bell, Berkeley County, SC
28 title exams, Strawberry Community Phase I, Berkeley County, SC
Ardmore Subdivision, sewer easements, Charleston, SC
54 title exams, railroad corridor, Cainhoy Road, Daniel Island, Berkeley County, SC
45 parcels, deed, plat and owner research, Lockwood Blvd., Charleston, SC
300 parcels, 23 mile power line corridor created in 1947, identifying owners and parcels over which easements were obtained as of 1947, Mt. Pleasant to McClellanville, Charleston County, SC
Hibbens Ferry Tract, gathering research back to the King’s Grant, Shem Creek, Charleston County, SC
1700-1900 chain of title of Seabrook Island and a portion of Kiawah Island, SC
Eddingsville Beach, broad information- gathering research back to the King’s Grant, Edisto Island, SC
Recreation of plantations from the 1800’s to date, including The Elms, Jackson, Nixon, Woodstock, Blue House, Charleston, SC
Paul and Dalton Plantations, research of marsh ownership back to 1733 King’s Grant, Combahee River, Colleton County, SC. Presenting findings in conjunction with an attorney and land surveyor to SC Assistant Attorney General.
Raccoon and Hog Islands, research of marsh ownership back to 1698 King’s Grant, Charleston County, SC
Environmental Site Assessments and Suits
Bishop England High School, chains of title on 13 lots & 2 graveyards, spanning an 87 to 141-year period, City of Charleston, SC
117 year chain of title, Blackville, SC
95 year chains of title on 6 parcels which were adjacent to an acid mill in 1927, Charleston, SC
Beazer East, Inc., Koppers Company, and Braswell Shipyards, creosote contamination, Charleston, SC
59 year chain of title Alumax of South Carolina, Inc., 5 ac. of 5,874 acres, Berkeley Co., SC
22 year chain of title on 10 acres back to 1,181.25 acres, Gippy Plantation, Berkeley County, SC
60 year chain of title for 148 acres of 577 acres, Patriot’s Point, Charleston, SC
59 year chain of title Ryan’s Family Steak House, Charleston, SC
59 year chain of title 165 acres Oak Plantation Campground, Red Top, Charleston, SC
75 year chain of title on 120 acres Charleston Television, Inc., Sixteen Mile House Tract, Seewee Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC
63 year chain of title Wando Industrial Park, Longpoint Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Organizing and indexing deeds, plats, etc. for 65 parcels into stand-alone files in one exhibit notebook to serve as a workstation for multiple title abstractors.
GIS, Charleston Area Digital Land Base, 6 square mile "pilot project", manage and conduct the deed and plat research phase of gathering over 6000 deeds, 1200 plats for 8000 parcels on 4 tax maps. Detailed a cost-estimate and methodology for the entire project spanning a tri-county area and 85,000 parcels. Charleston, SC
Telecommunication Antenna Sites, management of land surveying research--locating researchers, coordinating and reviewing research--max. 1 week turn-around per site, exceeding more than 1000 sites in North and South Carolina, Eastern Georgia, and portions of Tennessee, Virginia, and Florida.
Document Retrieval and Assimilation
Summarization of 2,700 recorded utility documents and referenced plats and entry onto multi-field database, Charleston and Berkeley Counties, SC
St. Andrews Public Service District, sewer facilities, retrieving recorded and unrecorded documents, assimilation, summarization, and computer entry, Charleston, SC
Developing computerized database and entry of 14 handwritten plat indices dating from 1907-1964, Dorchester County, SC
Homeowner’s Association Packages
Molasses Creek, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Quigley Farms, informal, add-on subdivision, Meggett, SC
Marsh Aire Subdivision, Edisto Island, SC
Training and Speaking Engagements
6 Delinquent Tax Office employees, title- abstracting procedures, Charleston Co., SC
Individualized training of Land Surveyors and Law School students, Charleston and Berkeley Counties, SC
Classroom instruction of Paralegal Students, Trident Technical College, Charleston, SC
Conference Speaker, SC Society of Professional Land Surveyors, SC Alliance of Legal Assistant Associations
Seminar Speaker, SC Society of ProfessionalLand Surveyors, for PDH credits
EXPERIENCE OF PRINCIPAL
Jean S. Branton, President, was trained over a four-year period as personal assistant to a prominent Williamsburg County real estate attorney. She received the majority of her title abstract training on timber company tracts. Ms. Branton has over 23 years experience in title and property research. As a 1988 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Trident Technical College, she has earned an Associate Degree in Business with a paralegal major. Ms. Branton also earned an Associate Degree in Secretarial Science with a legal secretarial major from Williamsburg Technical College in 1980. In addition to the experience gained through land surveying and drafting courses, she has been a part time rodman and researcher for several local land surveyors.
Ms. Branton is very active in the land surveying profession. Ms. Branton has represented the SCSPLS Coastal Chapter on the Charleston County RMC committee in its research of archiving plats and document imaging processes. She is a Charter Member of the Dorchester County Document Imaging Users’ Group, Record Documents Committee. Ms. Branton continues to spearhead a statewide effort to preserve deceased and retired land surveyors’ plats.
Ms. Branton is an active member of the State, Coastal, and Auxiliary Chapters of the South Carolina Society of Professional Land Surveyors, Tri-County Paralegal Association, Charleston Christian Legal Society, Fellowship of Companies for Christ International, and Palmetto Land Title Association. She is a founding member and board member of the Tri-County Paralegal Association, charter member of the Trident Technical College Paralegal Advisory Committee, and founding member, former Secretary, Vice-President, and immediate Past President of the SCSPLS Auxiliary. She assisted Trident Technical College in preparation of the syllabus for several courses and in obtaining its accreditation by the American Bar Association. Ms. Branton is a founding member and the current President of the Columbia International University Lowcounty Alumni and the ‘96-‘98 Member-at-Large of the CIU Alumni Executive Committee.
As President of Cornerstone Information Services, Inc., Ms. Branton is committed to continuing education. She and her staff frequently attend continuing education courses and maintain active memberships in professional associations.
Ms. Branton is a strong advocate of excellence in the work place and work product. This is evidenced throughout her work.
For further information, please contact:
Jean S. Branton
1240 Bacons Bridge Road
Summerville, SC 29485-4114
Phone: (843) 871-9706 ext 27
Fax: (843) 851-3166