Tony Mauro has a great piece exploring the legendary (or at least now-legendary) career of John G. Roberts, Jr., the advocate.
One quote from Walter Dellinger stuck out:
“It is the same intense focus on how to assemble five votes,” said former acting solicitor general Walter Dellinger, now at O’Melveny & Myers, who argued his first case against Roberts in 1990. “No other chief justice had as the heart of his professional career being a Supreme Court advocate.”
Of course, one main downside to the advocate-nominee, like Roberts, is that no one (including the President) really knows how they feel about issues. Any position taken during their career was always on behalf of a client.
Roberts did all the right things–clerked for Rehnquist, worked in the Reagan and Bush White Houses, was a member of the Federalist Society (but then pretended he wasn’t), etc. But it was not publicly known how he viewed certain issues.
I can think of another potential Republican nominee in a similar mold with “the heart of his professional career being a Supreme Court advocate”–Paul Clement.