M&A stars Richard Climan and Keith Flaum and tech transactions group leader Eric Reifschneider parted ways with Cooley Godward Kronish last week to join Dewey & LeBoeuf. But for Climan, at least, the parting may have started a while ago.

Climan, a native New Yorker, had long pushed for Cooley to move beyond its Silicon Valley roots. And last fall, when Cooley took on 35 startup lawyers from Heller Ehrman’s Venture Law Group, the M&A chief was one of the firm leaders to question the wisdom of doubling down on the firm’s already large emerging-companies practice — in the midst of the recession, no less — according to people familiar with the management committee decision.