Can you setup user profiles that can be assigned to roles?

The permissions in Jira are byzantine, but I think there must be a way to setup profiles that can be assigned to roles to make it easy to add internal and external client users

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It's not profiles, it's the roles themselves.  Each role should be used to define what a user in that role can do in the project.

If well designed then it's easy to say "stick user 1 in role A and user 2 in role B for this project" and have them be "internal" and "external" users.

You don't need "profiles", that's really what roles do already.

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