For the most part, lobbyists are just trying to get a fair deal for their clients. Many are pure public service advocates, like the folks working for Sunlight Foundation, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Consumers Union. (Disclosure: I know they're good guys, have checked 'em out as a board member.)
It's not fair to stain the whole industry for a few bad actors. The problem is differentiating the good guys from the influence peddlers.
The Obama Administration has faced this by not hiring lobbyists, in general, with some exceptions. The rationale is we need people who know how to pull the levers of power in Washington. There are a lot of people we need to help us, that might have done some lobbying.
From experience, I trust the Administration to make wise choices.
In All Lobbyists are Not Created Equal, Jacob Weisberg explains this a lot better than I can, and I agree with this:
The rules miss the distinction between lobbying that's good for democracy and lobbying that perverts it.
The president could deal with Washington sleaze much more effectively
through explanation and symbolism. Instead of tying his own hand with
counter-productive rules, he could instruct his staff to avoid dealing
with hired-gun lobbyists, putting interest groups on notice not to hire
them. He could explain the difference between influence peddlers and
committed advocates, reminding the country that he was once one of the
latter, when he lobbied for public-housing residents in Chicago.