CHESTER Widener University announced Friday that the American Bar Association had approved its plan to split its law schools, with one campus in Harrisburg and the other in Wilmington.

Effective July 1, the Harrisburg school will become the Widener University Commonwealth Law School, and Wilmington's will be known as the Delaware Law School.

In the decades they have been operating under the Widener name, "the two law campuses have grown and developed their own strengths and unique identities," said Widener president James T. Harris III.

Each school will have separate admissions requirements, deans, and specialties, said spokesman Dan Hanson. For example, a Commonwealth speciality would be government, and Delaware's would be corporate law. Currently, about 700 students attend the two schools.

Rod Smolla - former dean of both the University of Richmond School of Law and Washington and Lee University School of Law, and former president of Furman University - is set to become the Delaware dean.

Christian Johnson, the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law, is scheduled to take over the Harrisburg school.

- Inquirer staff