Cracking the Acorn Theory: Do Small Clients Grow To Be Big Clients?

Cracking the Acorn Theory: Do Small Clients Grow To Be Big Clients?

Many law firms have a theory. Winning a small amount of work from a desirable client can be a good way to bring that client into the firm’s fold and begin a new relationship. Over time, the theory goes, if this client is nurtured properly, it can be coaxed to provide increasing amounts of work and eventually become a major client.

It’s called the acorn theory--from a tiny seed of work in one legal area can grow a mature oak of a client, which provides work across many practices. Nice theory. But how often does it happen in practice?

At the Redwood Think Tank, this theory was thought to be largely a myth. Our professionals have long assisted leading law and other professional services firms in undergoing sophisticated business analysis. The Think Tank observed that regardless of the firm involved, most large clients appeared to have retained the firm for significant matters from the start of the relationship.

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