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When you spend your days as a matrimonial lawyer helping couples get divorced and your evenings setting up singles events to help couples get together, it is hard not to feel as though you are working at cross-purposes. So it was probably always just a matter of time before Samantha Daniels left the practice of law. Daniels, who began bringing singles together in her off-hours while working as a matrimonial associate at the firm then known as Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky, has turned what started as a sideline into a full-time calling. Her two-year-old dating service, Samantha’s Table (“the strategic social network for the savvy sophisticate,” http://www.samanthastable.com/), targets busy New York professionals who have everything they need except the right person with whom to share it all. With a personal approach that includes a detailed interview with every client and a network of literally thousands of single men and women, Daniels thinks of herself as a modern-day matchmaker. “I actually go out there and I look for exactly who they’re looking for,” she said. “I’m a headhunter for love.” And she said she has made the right choice by leaving divorce cases behind. “It’s definitely much more refreshing and appealing to be on the other side,” she said, “and hear people crying out of joy rather than out of frustration.” Raised in the Philadelphia suburb of Villanova, Daniels, who is 32, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989. At Temple University School of Law, she knew almost from the start that she was headed for the realm of matrimonial law. “I thought that of all the types of law you could do it’s the most people-intensive,” she said. “I liked the idea that it wasn’t just the law but also being a therapist of sorts.” After her second year at Temple, Daniels worked as a summer associate for matrimonial lawyer Robert Z. Dobrish, who recalled being won over by her artful and persuasive letter of inquiry. “She was a very street-smart, savvy kind of person,” Dobrish said. “I was certain that this woman was going to be a terrific matrimonial lawyer.” After graduation in 1993, Daniels continued her education in matrimonial practice as an intern in the chambers of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice David B. Saxe, who was then sitting in the matrimonial part. Saxe, who has since become an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, 1st Department, remembered Daniels as an old-fashioned networker who was not reticent about introducing herself to the lions of the matrimonial bar. “I thought she was very people-oriented and very entrepreneurial,” Saxe said. “I’m not surprised she’s built her own business.” SINGLES SIDELINE Daniels joined Anderson Kill in 1994, working under matrimonial partner Irving Shafran. And while she did enjoy the personality-driven aspects of domestic relations law, she also found herself developing the nearly antithetical sideline of staging cocktail parties and wine tastings to bring together single people she knew. “At the time I really wasn’t sure why,” she explained. “But I felt I had fallen into a niche of people with successful careers and well-rounded lives … but they all didn’t have that one person to be with. They were always looking for an event to go to to find that somebody.” After a couple of years of putting on singles events, Daniels realized she knew numerous couples who had gotten married after meeting through her. And she concluded that her matchmaking had become so satisfying that she ought to try it full time. “I saw this niche in New York,” she said, “which was sort of the 30s, early 40s crowd that were educated and had all these great things going on in their lives but were single and looking for someone.” Daniels practiced law part-time in 1997 and 1998 with her father, who has a personal injury and matrimonial firm in Philadelphia, as she prepared to launch the business. The service, which she initially called Table for Two (Or More), opened in 1998, marketed to busy professional types as an efficient and decidedly un-desperate way to meet people. Clients — there are currently about 160 — begin with an initial consultation that costs $400, in which Daniels extracts detailed information about the type of person the client hopes to meet. The initial meeting puts clients into Daniels’ active database of about 3,000 singles and includes them on her e-mail distribution list for upcoming events. Actual introduction plans cost upward of $1,000, with prices varying based on the frequency and number of dates. After the consultation, Daniels thumbs through her database looking for matches and sets up all the details of the introductions, striving for a personal touch that says typical dating services cannot match. “I do sort of provide a reference on the people I set up,” she said. “When you’re with me I can kind of tell you age, rank and serial number about the person. It’s like being with a friend of a friend.” One advantage of Samantha’s Table is that Daniels adds new singles to her database wherever she meets them and matches clients with anyone she knows who fits their criteria, not only with other clients. And after the date, she gets feedback from both participants and passes on anything that might be useful. She also offers additional services of dating tips and strategy, an image consultant, and advice on New York hot spots. As a result, Daniels, who is single herself, has a social calendar that is jam-packed with commitments. She is involved with numerous charities, which are, of course, grateful for the steady stream of benefit attendees she provides. She has plans to expand her Web site with an online interactive dating service. And she is looking for a publisher for a book on dating that she has completed.

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