The merger of two of the Twin Cities' four law schools — Hamline University School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law — won approval from the American Bar Association, and the schools said Wednesday that their combination should be final within days.

The Mitchell Hamline School of Law will be the largest in the region, the school said.

Dan O'Keefe, chairman of the Mitchell board of trustees and soon-to-be chairman of the merged school, said the school will "extend the best of each predecessor law school and become the pre-eminent institution in the region for practical, problem-solving legal education."

The melding of the two former rivals is the first law school merger in memory, according to the ABA, which accredits law schools, and comes at a time of falling law school enrollment nationwide. The decision was announced in February.

At the time, Hamline's law school had seen its enrollment drop by one-third since 2010. Mitchell saw a 17 percent drop in the same period.

Mitchell Hamline School of Law will be housed primarily on what has been the William Mitchell campus, at 875 Summit Av. in St. Paul.

The combined school will have about 1,000 students and 42 full-time faculty, the school's statement said.

Staff report