Someone recently told Associate Attorney General Michael J. Egan an interesting statistic: Jimmy Carter has appointed more Catholics and more graduates of Ivy League schools to the federal bench than any president in recent history. Recounting the incident, Mike Egan (Yale '50, Harvard Law '55, Annunciation Parish), who oversees judicial selection for the Carter administration, grinned sheepishly. "At least he hasn't appointed more Republicans," he said.

No one could question Mike Egan's credentials as a member of the "Georgia mafia." He is an urbane, gravel-voiced 52-year-old Atlanta lawyer with some of the old-shoe self-assurance of his boss, Attorney General Griffin Bell. But there are differences. The man who will help shape what could be the greatest partisan windfall since John Adams named the "midnight judges" is a former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives.

To hear Egan tell it now, his Republicans were quite helpful to Governor Carter. "We were with him more than we opposed him," he recalled. "His problems came with the Democratic majority. There are some similarities with the situation here in Washington."

Egan joined the GOP in the mid-'50s as a gesture of rebellion against Georgia's one-party political system. "Republicans were viewed then as moderate-to-liberals," he said. His first vote in the Georgia House was in favor of seating a fellow freshman, Julian Bond, whom the old-line Democrats tried to bar because of his antiwar activities.

In 1976 Egan's oldest daughter Moira (now a staff assistant with the National Endowment for the Humanities) worked full-time with the Carter campaign. "Charely Kirbo says that's how I got my job," Egan said.

Egan and his wife Donna live in Spring Valley with three of their six children: Michael, 22, who works for a subcommittee chaired by Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), and sons Roby and John, who attend Catholic schools here. Daughter Donna, 21, is studying nursing at the Medical College of Georgia, and another son, Cole, 18, stayed in Atlanta rather than relinquish his starting spot as wide receiver on a high school football team.

It's going to be a busy year for Egan because Bell has publicly committed the Justice Department to naming 80 percent of the new judges by April.

Egan says he doesn't mind the long hours he'll be working. "I don't consider that a strain, if you enjoy what you're doing." And that he obviously does; he has no hobbies to draw his mind away from the job. "My wife gets on me about that," he said wryly. "She says, 'What're you going to do when you quit working?' I say, 'Probably just die.'" CAPTION: Picture, no caption