Richard Fish founded the law firm Cage & Fish along with John Cage. Richard, has a very loose interpretation of both legal ethics and ethics governing interpersonal behavior and acts most of the time as though he has very little conscience, and thus tends to be far more comfortable than his friend John in social situations. This is even when he said the most embarrassing things, such as suggesting to Melanie West that John was too nervous to begin a relationship, but that he, Richard, would be happy to have sex with her. Richard was far more interested in making money than the technicalities of the practice of law, which he seemed to have little knowledge of. His friend John Cage was the more superior litigator, but due to John's social awkwardness, Richard was the firm's manager and leader.
Richard's fellow lawyers often dreaded the prospect of him appearing in court to argue a case ,although, several times during the show's run, Richard does perform credibly in the courtroom, usually due to a combination of circumstances such as a sudden burst of inspiration or sheer luck. Late in Series 5, Richard becomes infatuated with feisty Liza Bump, or "Lolita" played by Christina Ricci. After his father is sued for sexual harassment, his mother informs him he will never fall in love; however, he declares his love for Liza. They marry at the end of the series. He is the one who recruited the title character Ally McBeal to join his law firm, Cage & Fish. Which would later (Series 5) become Cage, Fish & McBeal when he makes Ally senior partner in John Cage's absence.
Richard is attracted to women with neck wattle (loose skin on the neck). This includes older women. For example in the "Body Language" episode of season one he pines after Attorney General Janet Reno for her wattle.
- Judge Jennifer 'Whipper' Cone portrayed by Dyan Cannon (Season 1–3 / 17 Ep.): A judge who had a relationship with Richard Fish for a while until the broke up for the first time near the ending of season one. They then were back together in season 3 until they broke up sometime after.
- Ling Woo portrayed by Lucy Liu: had a romantic relationship with Richard lasted from Season Two until near the beginning of season three. Their relationship began again when Richard broke up with Whipper somewhere in or before season 4 then the relationship ended at the ending of season 4.
- Debbie 'Liza' Bump portrayed by Christina Ricci (Season 5 / 7 Ep.): a lawyer who worked at Cage & Fish and married Richard Fish in the last episode.
- Richard Fish is one of only five characters to have appeared as a regular in all five seasons of the show. The other four characters are Ally McBeal, John Cage, Vonda Shepard, and Elaine Vassal.