Buying Into the Big Time

A tycoon reaches the top

Reginald Lewis had every reason to feel successful and satisfied. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he had founded the first black legal firm on Wall Street and enjoyed a six-figure income. But four years ago, at age 40, Lewis became bored with a lawyer's life. He decided to jump onto a faster track: the takeover game.

Last week that career change paid off in a spectacular fashion. Lewis struck a single deal that will transform his investment firm, TLC Group, into the largest black-owned business in the U.S. Beating out such rival bidders as Citicorp, Pillsbury and Shearson Lehman Bros.,...