Teresa, the notary of record: 49 registrations, the first female dean in Andalusia and the youngest
Joy, excitement, gratitude and “that pinch in the stomach that appears due to the responsibility of wanting to do it well.” This is how María Teresa Barea describes her first emotions when, on November 15, she was given the news that she had been chosen dean of the Notarial College of Andalusia. At 38 years old, she has become the first woman to hold that position and, also, the youngest of the history of the Spanish notarial profession in doing so.
Despite her youth and being the one who will open the way for the next ones, she clarifies that does not have higher expectations that with respect to his colleagues and, if there are, they will serve as an “incentive” to try to do “even better.” Teresa does not shy away from any challenge. Her strong sense of duty means that, if her colleagues think she is the right person for the position, she will do it and fulfill the vocation of public service that led her to be a notary.
And it does seem the best for it. His academic and professional career could be described as perfect. He studied Law at the University of Granada, his hometown, and completed one: He obtained 49 registrations for 49 subjects. As soon as he finished his degree, he began preparing for the notary examination, one of the toughest in Spain, and approved in less than three yearsa record time, since on average it takes between 5 and 10.
In his third year of college, he discovered his passion for this profession when he chose the subject of Notarial Law, which was taught by his teacher and, later, trainer, Juan Antonio López Frías. In reality, Law was not even his vocation, All he knew was that he wanted to dedicate himself to public service.a role that in the case of notaries has been described as essential during the pandemic and that Teresa claims.
Notaries have been on the front line providing assistance during the hardest moments of confinement when there were “many needs to attend to” and “the phone was falling” due to the number of queries. “When everything was closed, Here we were the notaries, helping people. “Citizens have become more aware than ever of our public service nature.”
Teresa remembers those moments of uncertainty and fear, in which the population’s requests changed, but the work did not decrease. “The closure came and suddenly ICO loans appeared. There was the notary for any small businessman or self-employed person who found himself closing the shutters and who asked for a loan from the bank. Many elderly people locked in their homes asked us to grant powers to authorize their children and that they could make their arrangements. Scared people who called worried to say: ‘I have this underlying illness, I don’t have a will and I’m afraid if something happens to me…’. “We have been making wills, perhaps more than ever.”.
Although she jokes that she is “the black sheep of the family” because she is the only one who has not dedicated herself to science – her parents are teachers and her older sister is a chemist – this vocation for public service is something she carries in the genes. Furthermore, she emphasizes that since she was little she was instilled in her the importance “of “responsibility, personal effort and a sense of duty”values that have taken her to where she is.
A lover of literature and history, this woman from Granada, always a good student, considered studying Hispanic Philology or Art History. “I saw that the other degrees perhaps took me more into the world of teaching, which didn’t attract me as much. Since Law has such a wide branch of opportunities, I said: ‘Well, I think I’m going to like it and I’m sure that some of they will fit me.'”
So it was. The profession of notary fit him like a glove. “I was very attracted to the subject and wanted to know more about that profession. Through Juan Antonio López Frías, I gained that knowledge and in fourth grade I knew that when I finished I would start studying the competitive exams.”
Opposition in 3 years
Making the decision to prepare an opposition is “an adventure because “You know when you start but not when you finish.”, it’s almost a parenthesis in life. “Your life plan during preparation is not just any one that you can combine with social life or work. A notary’s opposition is to lock yourself up like a monk in your house, alone, with an average study of 10-11 hours a dayand very controlled breaks”.
Almost anyone who has taken the exam will say that it is a very hard period and, in general, not very pleasant. But Teresa Barea is not just anyone. She describes the years of preparation as “rewarding”, although without forgetting the effort it took. “I I lived it as something stimulating, as a happy period, I studied with joy. I was very focused on the goal I had set for myself: to be a notary. “The excitement that this awakened in me was such that I think it gave me courage and energy to study.”
“I see the opposition as a very important personal experience that It takes you to your physical, intellectual, and emotional limits.. Reaching out to them makes you know a lot about yourself. “With that philosophy, and as a trainer that she has been since taking office in 2009, she gives advice to all opponents:” Never think that you are wasting your time. “
“There are opponents who have that feeling that they are missing things. I always say: ‘Look, even if you don’t get it, the training, what you are learning about yourself and that study habit, will never be a wasted effort. We pursue a objective and yours is to reach it, but Even if you don’t succeed, time is never wasted.”.
Get up, have breakfast, go up to the roof of his parents’ apartment, study, stop to eat, continue studying… That was his routine during the years of preparing for the exam of his life. The most curious thing is that she studied from above and while taking walks.
“I have always loved walking and since I was little I have studied walking, don’t ask me how. I think I concentrate better while moving. During the opposition I would go up to the community roof and I would walk and study, going around the roof, greeting the neighbors. “I can’t tell you how many kilometers I could do every day, when the afternoon came I just wanted to go to the couch,” she remembers with a laugh.
His first destination once approved was Campillo de Arenas, a small town in Jaén, where he stayed for just over four years. Although he seems crazy, He used that time to prepare for another opposition, this time an internal one. “It follows a scheme very similar to the free opposition, but of greater difficulty,” he explains. “The prize, if you pass them with a certain grade, is that they give you seniority that you can use in a competition to access the position you want and that requires more seniority.”
In less than two years he prepared it and, again, passed. And not only that, got the highest grade. They gave it 20 years old which, along with the almost five that he had accumulated working in Campillo de Arenas, he used to return to his home, Granada.
Although she is the youngest dean in the history of the Spanish notarial profession, Teresa already has 11 years of experience as a notary and eight forming part of the Board of Directors of the Notarial College of Andalusia. “Shortly after starting to work at Campillo, Salvador Torres Ruiz, who was running for dean, contacted me to propose collaborating with the Board as a deputy secretary of Deontology and Discipline“.
In the following elections, four years later, José Luis Lledó, the outgoing dean, took her into account for the list of candidates, only this time he offered her to be vice dean. Teresa emphasizes the intense learning “of the internal functioning of the School in all its areas and the approach to institutional life” that she has achieved in these years. All of this will allow it to fulfill the “first mission” of the College: to deepen the closeness of the members. “In the end our reason for being is to be next to the members and help them so that they can carry out their functions well,” she says.
Listening to her, she seems happier for having received the trust of her colleagues, whom she constantly appoints, than for the position itself. “It was a fairly high participation of colleagues and the support was broad for the list we presented.”
Always with humility far from personalism, he explains that he has “no specific aspiration”, other than to fulfill his duty. “I tell you with my heart in my hand that I have no desire to take center stage or to be in places. Service calls to me, that my colleagues at any given moment think that I can help. “If I can, I’ll be there, I’m not one to shy away from responsibilities.”
Highlights the need to work as a team, where appropriate both personally and professionally, when facing this challenge. “I have two 19-month-old twins, Teresa and Juan, and they are very good but logically they have the work of two small children. I am extremely fortunate that My husband and I have perfect communication, harmony and coordinationeach one assuming their tasks. It is what allows me to dedicate that additional time that ‘steals’ my position.”
He also praises his team, which has been formed in an “equal and natural” way. “In the end this is a team effort. The Board of Directors is not just the dean, there is the vice dean, the secretaries, treasurers, members… The joint list has come out, something that was not intentional. “There are men and women, young people, more experienced people… I think it is a very good mix and it gives me a lot of peace of mind because it is a magnificent team.”
More and more women
This is how he believes the Spanish notarial sector will evolve towards equality, “naturally hand in hand with society.” For years, women have been the majority in many law schools, and this is beginning to be noticed in access to the notary office. “In the case of Andalusia, right now a third of the notaries are women. But in the latest promotions, the proportion is balanced.” What’s more, in In the last opposition, 60% of those approved were women.
This equality has not yet reached senior positions. In Spain, of the 17 Notarial Colleges (one for each autonomous community) there are only four deans. However, Teresa is optimistic and thinks that with the passage of time, she too will achieve it. “It always takes a little longer because these positions are usually assumed with a little more experience. In the case of Andalusia, until I arrived it had not been the case that there was a woman, but we have already achieved it, and little by little.”
The dean also values positively that, in the case of the notary profession, “there have been women since the 40s.” “Although they were fewer, the women who have worked since those dates have always had the same treatment, the same dignity, skills and remuneration as men. In this sense, I personally “I have never felt that I was received worse, neither for being a woman nor for being young.”.
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