Navigating Difficult Conversations & Employee Evaluations

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 61 minutes
Recorded Date: January 31, 2019
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  • 3 way to communicate more mindfully
  • How to respectfully challenge criticism
  • How to help direct reports improve performance
  • The benefits of mindfulness for lawyers
Runtime: 1 hour
Recorded: January 31, 2019


In the workplace, it’s important to be mindful in communication. In this session, participants will enact evaluation scenarios, which will tackle difficult subject matters and conversations with managers. Topics raised will include how to advocate for yourself and your department, how to ingest constructive criticism, and how to mindfully tailor your communication. Audience members will provide feedback on the staged scenarios.

This program was recorded as part of the LegalDiversity & Talent Management Forum at the Legalweek Conference held on January 31st, 2019.

Provided By



Denise Robinson

Founding Principal
The Still Center LLC

Denise combines expertise in advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace with experience in teaching contemplative practices to help lawyers and other professionals bring their best to all aspects of their lives.

After starting her career as a lawyer, Denise transitioned from addressing discrimination claims and other employment disputes as an employment litigator, to promoting harmonious and innovative workplaces as a global diversity & inclusion professional. Her diversity work is informed by experiences as an admissions officer at a top law school and university, as well as through my work as a research director for a think tank.

Denise presents a wide variety of professional development issues, from taking inclusion initiatives global, to the link between intentionality and organizational change. She created the Still Center, LLC to expand on experience using contemplative practices to help professionals develop positive responses to stress and raise self-awareness.

Denise earned her JD from the University of Chicago Law School, and graduated cum laude from Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy.

Aida Babalola

Legal Director, Employment Law

Aida is a strategic legal business partner that helps achieve business goals while also balancing legal and reputational risk. This includes counseling on a broad range of employment matters and partnering closely with HR clients and business partners to solve problems. In addition to day-to-day advice and counsel, Aida manages employment litigation, hiring and managing outside counsel and setting strategies for resolution of cases that make sense for the business.

Jackie Cranford

Founder & Principal
Cranford Advisory Services, LLC

Jacqueline Cranford is the founder and principal of Cranford Advisory Services LLC. She also serves as a Senior Consultant with Verna Myers Consulting Group LLC. With over 25 years of legal industry experience and a demonstrated record of successfully designing and implementing talent management strategies, Ms. Cranford serves as a trusted adviser to leaders in the legal industry and an advocate for effective talent management. Ms. Cranford engages individuals at every level in the organizational structure to provide appropriate training and guidance, tailored to her clients and their needs.

Prior to establishing Cranford Advisory Services LLC, Ms. Cranford led talent management initiatives for more than 14 years in three American Lawyer 100 law firms. She developed and implemented global talent management strategies relating to diversity, inclusion, recruiting, professional development, performance management, leadership training, business development, and global integration, among other things. Additionally, she served as an adviser to firm leaders, partners, associates, and administrators while also representing the firms externally, developing a wide range of meaningful relationships in the legal community.

Ms. Cranford has been actively engaged, frequently as a speaker, with several organizations such as the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Corporate Counsel Women of Color, the Leadership Counsel on Legal Diversity, NALP (The Association for Legal Career Professionals), and the Professional Development Consortium. She also has held leadership positions with NALP and the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals, of which she was a founding member.

Ms. Cranford graduated from Oral Roberts University, cum laude, and earned her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Following law school, she joined Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP (now K&L Gates LLP) as a litigator and remained there for five years before joining the U.S. Department of Justice as a trial attorney. Her professionalism, expertise, integrity, industry knowledge, and breadth of experiences result in excellent client service.

Gabrielle L. Brown

Executive Director, Diversity & Inclusion
Morgan Stanley

Gabrielle Lyse Brown is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, where she advises on diversity and inclusion strategy across the Investment Management, Finance, Technology, Operations, Risk Management, and Legal/Compliance divisions.

Previously, Gabrielle served as the Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the New York City Bar, where she led the Association’s efforts to enhance diversity in the legal profession across a broad range of internal and external constituents, including law firms, corporate legal departments, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. In this capacity, Gabrielle spearheaded the Association’s qualitative and quantitative research and developed individualized strategies to increase the retention and advancement of women and minority attorneys. Additionally, she founded the City Bar’s Pipeline Initiative.

She is a frequent speaker and trains organizations on data-driven initiatives, implicit bias, professional readiness, mentoring, networking, and developing diversity and inclusion “better practices.” She has spoken at the Practicing Law Institute (PLI), Bloomberg Big Law Diversity Summit, and ALM Legal Week and her work has been featured in publications including the New York Times, New York Law Journal, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and Thomson Reuters. She is a recipient of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association George B. Vashon Innovator Award.

Gabrielle is the co-chair of the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) Fellows Board and was a 2014 Fellow. She is a member of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) Advisory Board, The National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the Oberlin College Alumni Council and Practicing Attorneys for Law Students, Inc. (PALS). Additionally, she serves as a special advisor to the Pipeline to Practice Foundation and as a consultant to the New York Financial Services Diversity Group.

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