BALTIMORE, AUG. 7 -- A former Baltimore city council member and judge convicted of bribery in 1980 has been hired as a manager in the city's insurance office because he was considered the best qualified of all applicants, city officials said.

Allen B. Spector, 53, started work Monday as a manager in the risk management office, which oversees City Hall's insurance operations, said Harold R. Tall, the city finance director.

Tall said he knew Spector had been convicted of paying bribes when he was a council member and lawyer, but said, "I don't think that had any impact on the job."

Seventeen applications were considered for the civil service position. Tall said he and two other finance department officials interviewed three of the applicants before picking Spector.

"We decided he was the best qualified. He has a lot of experience as a claims attorney," Tall said.

Spector served six years on the City Council. His wife, Rikki Spector, is now a council member.

Spector was fined $15,000 and given two years' probation in 1980 after being convicted of paying bribes on three occasions in 1974 and 1975.

He was accused of funneling money from developers who were trying to avoid a sewer moratorium to Maurice R. Wyatt, an aide to then-Gov. Marvin Mandel, and to an assistant attorney general working with the health department.

Most of the applicants for the insurance post lived out of state, Tall said. The city has a policy of giving first preference for jobs to city residents.

The insurance position is considered "a position of trust" in city government, a designation requiring a criminal background check of the new employe by state police.

In 1982, Spector was disbarred at the request of lawyers for the Attorney Grievance Commission, who described bribery as a "crime of moral turpitude."

"I understand whatever adjudication was meted out, he's paid his debt to society," said Adolph Gayle, the city's insurance risk management officer and Spector's new boss.

Spector, who served as a judge for 3 1/2 years, spent 17 years in private practice.

In recent years, he has sold real estate and insurance.

Spector, a friend of Mayor Clarence Du Burns', said he had not asked the mayor for any help in getting the city job.

"Friends are friends. But I didn't apply through them and I didn't get my job through them. This is not a political appointment," Spector said.