A story in yesterday's editions incorrectly described Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin and Kahn as the sixth largest law firm in Washington. It is second largest in terms of total number of partners and associates, the usual standard for measuring the size of law firms.
John R. Risher Jr., 37, who is spearheading a legal effort to depose City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker, joined the mayor's cabinet last year and quickly became one of his closest advisers.
After the controversy over former Department of Human Resources Director Joseph P. Yeldell broke out last year, Risher was reported to have reached the point where he was outranked in the mayor's inner circle by only the mayor's wife and his longtime confident Julian Dugas.
However, many District building observers, while expressing respect for Risher's legal abilities, voiced concern at that time over his political savvy.
More recently, when the mayor reinstated Yeldell to a position of relative prominence in the District Building, he had been suspended as DHR director following allegations of nepotism and conflict of interest - observers detected a decline in the stock of Risher, who had opposed such a move.
At the time of his appointment to the post of corporation counsel, the city government's chief lawyer, Risher was one of only three black partners in major white law firms here.
A District native and a former federal prosecutor who specialized in criminal fraud cases, he was a partner at Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin and Kahn, the city's sixth largest law firm.
At the time of his appointment, Risher, who had served as general counsel for the mayor's 1974 election campaign, expressed a desire to serve the mayor as "a close personal adviser."
At the same time, he expressed an intention to keep his office out of politics, asserting that he did not wish "to become an advocate for any narrow point of view" of the executive branch.
In addition, Risher voiced concern over the effects on the city of what he perceived as differences between the mayor and the Council.
He said he believed that his new post "might be the one office that could allow those differences to melt."
As corporation counsel Risher has been critical of the City Council's failure to grant his office what he considered sufficient funds to operate effecectively.
The office had long been subject to criticism for not vigorously prosecuting consumer complaints, for the quality of its paperwork and for the level of representation demonstrated by some of its staff attorneys.
Risher also critized the quality of some of the legislation and resolutions The Council has generated, and the drafted opinons calling for mayoral vetoes of the legislation.
A graduate of St. John's College High School here, Risher received degrees from Morgan State College in Baltimore and from the law school of the University of California at Los Angeles, where he finished second in a class of 200.
He is a former chairman of the Montgomery County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a former officer of the National Capital Area ACLU.
He and his wife and two children live in the Cleveland Park section of Northwest Washington.