Evan Zucker left behind a lucrative legal practice twice: once to become a jet-fighter pilot, then again years later to pursue his dream of becoming an independent entrepreneur.
Today he is the owner of Totality Software Inc., which publishes the unlikely combination of legal and astronomy software in San Diego. The former lawyer credits his unusual background with giving him the discipline and life experience needed to break into the high-tech business.
“There isn’t a lawyer alive who hasn’t dreamed of switching careers,” says the attorney-turned-entrepreneur.
Zucker’s dreaming started soon after college, when the young associate at a San Diego law firm gazed out the window at military aircraft from nearby North Island Naval Air Station. He wondered what it would be like to be a pilot.
At 26, Zucker joined the Air Force. His first overseas posting was as a weapon systems officer in the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at the Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland.
The crew’s mission was to intercept and identify Soviet bombers that had crossed into the Icelandic Air Defense Identification Zone. Zucker’s squadron needed to know not only the time of sunrise and sunset, but also the precise beginning and end of civil twilight. He wrote a BASIC program on a Commodore 64 computer to perform those calculations, which was used to schedule his squadron’s flying operations.
Zucker left the Air Force in 1988 after logging more than 500 flight hours in a F-4 Phantom II fighter-bomber. He traded his wings for a van and spent the summer crossing North America. Along the way he bought a Zenith 181 laptop and converted his astronomy program to IBM QuickBASIC.
Before the year was over, Zucker resumed practicing law in San Diego and started a software company on the side to sell his astronomy program. As a solo practitioner in commercial litigation, Zucker needed a computer program to manage his collection accounts. None of the programs on the market satisfied him, so he hired a programmer to write a new one. It soon became popular with other attorneys and Zucker’s software business gathered steam.
By 1995 Zucker was ready to leave the practice of law--again. “I was tired of fighting with lawyers and clients.”
Totality’s programs for managing debt collection have sold throughout the United States and overseas, including one recent order from Pago Pago, American Samoa, that came in through his Web site at https://www.totality.com
Healthy sales--more than 100 units at $1,000 apiece--permitted Zucker recently to sign a marketing and support agreement with Abacus Data Systems Inc. of San Diego, the creators of legal and financial software, also headed by a former attorney.
“Evan is one of those rare lawyers who clearly visualizes any problem and delivers a brilliant solution using the latest technology,” says Judd Kessler, president of Abacus.
Zucker says the best part of his business is the time it affords him to be with his family. He and his wife, Paula Eisenhart, a physician at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, have two sons, Cameron, 4, and Alexander Rhyan, born June 10.
“I’m pretty comfortable where I am now, because I’ve already done adventurous things,” Zucker says. “Now I’m looking forward to doing some of them again with my kids.”