There are a great many roles a lawyer fills in their client’s lives. Often we are counselors other times we are advocates. Even within a specific role — like divorce lawyer different individual lawyers attack that role with different abilities and approaches.
I see myself first and foremost as a problem solver. I truly believe that the vast majority of my clients hire me to solve their problems: “Keith, my marriage is broken. Help me and my children get on with our lives.” I am not being hired to beat up the other side, or even actually to get custody or get a divorce. My job is to solve the problem, divorce, guardianship, adoption, custody, and child support are just the means to completing the underlying job — solving the problem.
Other lawyers see themselves as litigators. Their job is to take their client’s problems to a judge. They believe their job is to give their client their day in court. In my opinion, they are advocates without being counselors. They may be experts at presenting their client position to a judge but they have left the main job to the judge. They are trusting and relying on the judge to solve the problem.
There are also lawyers that are just hired guns. Their job is to beat up the other side. They are neither advocate or counselor they are in the business of pain.
Contrast that with criminal defense lawyer. Their primary job is creating and pointing out problems. Where I am trying to solve problems, the criminal defense lawyer is trained to point out any plausible problem. Their job in criminal court is to say “There is a problem with the warrant; there is a problem with this arrest, there is a problem with the confession…” When that approach comes in contact with a domestic case, it only creates hard feelings and havoc.
More than anything, you need to think though what it is you are hiring a lawyer to do. Then you need to meet with lawyers until you find someone that understands that approach and is willing to do the job you are hiring them to actually do.