Having settled the central question about his political plans, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry focused anew on his drug and perjury trial yesterday, as friends and supporters discussed ways to safeguard his financial future once he leaves office.

After his Wednesday night address closing the door on a campaign for a fourth term and signaling the end of an era in D.C. politics, Barry adhered yesterday to what has become his accustomed schedule: a full day in U.S. District Court, where jury selection neared its conclusion.

As Barry was whisked to Duke Zeibert's restaurant during the court's lunch break, he waved from his limousine at several hundred supporters who gathered outside the courthouse to protest the U.S. government's prosecution of the three-term mayor. Barry dined with City Administrator Carol B. Thompson -- he had soft-shell crabs -- before returning to court

Asked about persistent speculation that he is talking to federal prosecutors about a possible plea agreement, Barry told reporters at the courthouse there was nothing he could say.

"Mum's the word," Barry said.

Things were not as silent on the campaign trail, where the tempo of the Democratic mayoral primary seemed to pick up a bit in Barry's absence. Two candidates issued strongly worded attacks against rival John Ray, an at-large member of the D.C. Council who is the leading fund-raiser among Democratic candidates.

Meanwhile, a group of religious leaders, led by Jesse L. Jackson, told reporters they were prepared to help Barry with mounting legal fees and to lobby for legislation that would make the mayor eligible for full pension benefits.

"These leaders are prepared to address these needs and to indeed raise money for these needs," said Jackson, flanked by 16 ministers at a news conference held outside Metropolitan Baptist Church in Northwest Washington. Jackson also said that the group was hopeful that a plea agreement could be reached, sparing Barry and the city the pain of a trial.

In recent weeks, the mayor's friends and associates also have privately discussed lining up jobs to provide Barry with a financial safety net when he leaves office in January.

Many interviewed said that anger about the mayor's arrest and indictment on perjury and cocaine charges has turned into sympathy for a politician who they said has made major contributions to the city during his 12 years in office and now faces an uncertain future.

While numerous jobs -- bank vice president, director of a nonprofit foundation, teacher, business consultant and author -- have been discussed in private meetings, sources said that no specific arrangements have been made.

While many differed on the type of position that would best suit the mayor -- who many say is a consummate deal maker who has always valued power more than financial rewards -- most agreed that he needs and should expect support from the people he helped while in office.

As his legal and medical costs mount, Barry -- whose salary is $90,705 -- does not have enough service time in District government to be entitled to full retirement pension benefits.

The mayor, who is 54 and has 16 years of government service, would be eligible for retirement benefits if he had 20 years of service, according to the D.C. Personnel Department. Barry, however, could withdraw the contributions that he has made to his pension fund. Although Barry was elected to the school board in 1971, his eligibility for retirement didn't begin until he was elected to the D.C. Council in 1975.

Three blind trust funds -- one for legal fees, one for medical costs and one to pay for the education of the mayor's son, Christopher -- have been established. At one point shortly after the legal fund was started, it contained at least $27,500. It could not be determined how much money has been contributed to that fund or to the others, but sources say that the legal fund now is running dry.

Barry filed papers with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance this week showing that he had $63,863 left in his campaign treasury. Now that he is no longer a candidate for reelection, certain restrictions will apply to those funds, according to a spokesman for the campaign finance office.

City regulations state that Barry's options are limited to refunding the money, giving it to a political party or a combination of the two.

Still, it is not entirely clear whether Barry would be prevented from using all or part of the funds to pay for his legal defense. Regulations say that campaign contributions may be used to pay lawyers' fees, but only for legal matters arising directly from the campaign itself. Barry filed his candidacy late last year; he was arrested Jan. 18.

Some of those who have begun to focus on Barry's future predicted that he will not have a difficult time finding a job because a number of powerful people in the city are interested in seeing him land on his feet.

"I feel that Marion Barry has been a big help to a significant number of black men and women in business," said Robert Johnson, owner of Black Entertainment Television and a former Barry campaign official. "To the extent to which we can help him achieve his destiny we should do it. It is a matter of respect and friendship and obligation."

Jeffrey N. Gildenhorn, a local restaurateur and close friend of the mayor's, said that some white business people are also concerned about the mayor's financial security.

"There are people who care about him and are working behind the scenes to work up a game plan for him," said Gildenhorn. "When the proper time comes, something will be worked out."

In recent weeks, sources said, Jackson has held private discussions with Barry supporters and friends about the mayor's future. Jackson reportedly has floated the idea of having Barry become a vice president of a local minority-owned bank while at the same time persuading some of Barry's supporters from the business community to do business with the bank.

When asked about such a possibility, Jackson said yesterday he knew nothing about it. Jackson did say there are things that can be done. "Many ex-officials work in the investment community," he said. "There are book-writing opportunities."

D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) said he is confident that Barry's skills as a politician will be well utilized. Crawford also said that Barry should be viewed no differently than other politicians whose legal problems force them out of office.

"We have had a president who was driven from office, but he is a very capable man who rose from that devastation to world acceptance," said Crawford. "We should treat the mayor of the District of Columbia no differently. He should be treated with the same respect as folks of the majority persuasion."

At the same time, many felt that Barry's trial will hamper efforts to create job opportunities for him.

Even some of Barry's friends say it would be in their best interest to keep the mayor at a distance. Sources say that some white business leaders are trying to maintain a low profile because they fear that their efforts to help Barry find a job -- however well intentioned -- could be viewed as an effort to implement the so-called "plan," the notion that there is a conspiracy on the part of white people to wrest political control of the city from blacks.

But most of all, people say that helping Barry plan his future outside of government may depend on whether the trial goes beyond jury selection.

"The less that is brought out and known at the trial the better," said Johnson. "No one likes to have his laundry aired in a public forum. The less that happens, the more comfortable people are in bringing folks into their organizations."

A Barry associate said that Barry has more opportunities now than he will have after a trial. "If the trial goes to the full extent and everything comes out that is rumored, he {Barry} would be damaged goods."

While most of the discussions about Barry's future center on his financial security, others note that when Barry steps down in January he will lose the things that many think he values the most -- the power and perks of his office.

"The perks of the job drove his lifestyle more than money," said a longtime friend. "The moment he wakes up and there is no limo, no guards and the phone stops ringing, it is going to be awfully hard on him."

Staff writer Michael York contributed to this report.