Attorney General Edwin Meese III's choice for the No. 2 job in the Justice Department is taking the weekend to think about whether he wants to accept the position, a department spokesman said Saturday.

John C. Shepherd, the St. Louis attorney recommended by Meese for deputy attorney general, set no firm time for informing the attorney general of his decision but "did want to use the weekend to get away with his family and think it over," said Patrick Korten, a department spokesman.Another Justice Department spokesman, Terry Eastland, late Friday confirmed that Shepherd, in a meeting with Meese, "expressed reservations . . . based on family concerns."

An administration source said Shepherd and his wife were upset that Meese's recommendation had focused unwanted attention and publicity on the trial of a former bookkeeper in his law firm and the woman's allegations about Shepherd.

Denise Sinner, who was convicted of making false statements and stealing money from the firm, alleged during her trial that she had an affair with Shepherd and that he had given her permission to write checks to herself from the firm.

Shepherd has denied both allegations.