Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Elder Quentin L. Cook speaks at the J. Reuben Clark Law Society fireside Friday.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told a group of attorneys Friday evening that the pursuit of happiness precludes comparisons between oneself and others. He spoke at the Church's Conference Center following presentation of a prestigious award.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society honored Elder Cook, a 1966 graduate of Stanford Law School, with its Distinguished Service Award as part of its seventh annual fireside. After accepting the award, he spoke for more than 30 minutes about the pursuit of happiness and religious freedom.

Regarding the pursuit of happiness, Elder Cook emphasized the importance of a paradigm shift away from making unattainable comparisons between oneself and other people, a practice that could potentially result in debilitating discouragement.

"In the hothouse environment of the law, there are many people who are very skilled, and there is always somebody who seems to be better in all the ingredients that make up the qualifications to be lawyer," he said. "Notwithstanding these issues I would ask, do we have to be ... so hard on ourselves?"

He continued, "I respectfully submit that members of the legal profession would be blessed if they did not underestimate their accomplishments and capabilities."

To frame his discussion of religious freedom, Elder Cook first recounted some experiences he had during 2007 and 2008 in his capacity as the vice chairman of the Church's Public Affairs Committee. While visiting the editorial boards of 12 prominent newspapers, magazines and journals to answer questions about the LDS faith, he realized that at nearly every meeting the same two inquiries kept coming up: "Why are you so secretive?" and "Why do some people take the position that you are not Christians?"

Elder Cook suggested that to combat misinformation about the Church and bigotry against its members, individuals must get involved front and center in the already ongoing public discourse about their faith.

"Contemplate how you can improve the society in which you live," he said. "Participating in government and asserting righteous principles in the public square would be a commendable and much-needed goal. We are asking you as individuals to respond appropriately and in a Christ-like fashion whenever and wherever it is necessary."

Kent B. Linebaugh, a partner in the Salt Lake City law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough, was also recognized Friday by the JRCLS. Linebaugh received the Franklin S. Richards Award for Pro Bono Service for his work with the Inner City Project.