When Reed Elsevier announced the retirement of its current CEO, Andy Prozes, it also outlined a change in how the LexisNexis business will be organized after January 1, 2011. LexisNexis will be split into two different units, each with its own CEO. There will be a “Risk Solutions” group with Jim Peck as CEO, and a “Legal Businesses” group with Mike Walsh as CEO. Both Peck and Walsh will report to Reed Elsevier’s CEO, Erik Engstrom.

A LexisNexis spokesperson told me that more information will be released on the overall objectives of this move following the February 2011 Reed Elsevier annual meeting. At this time, the purpose of the split is to allow each of the units to “focus on their respective priorities and create value for their customers.” Apparently, the Risk Solutions unit will have a much broader market in which products like ChoicePoint will be marketed, while the Legal Businesses unit will narrow in on the legal industry. The LexisNexis spokesman said the idea was that the “risk and legal businesses will continue to leverage each other’s content, technology, sales channels, and other resources.”

According to one report, the move to split off the legal businesses unit is an effort to “help it win back market share lost to Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw in a difficult market.” With Thomson Reuters new initiative to push its product into the one- to three-attorney firms announced last week, and LexisNexis’ push into that same market with its Lexis Advance for Solos product, it should be quite a battle between LexisNexis Legal Businesses and Thomson Reuters Legal in 2011.