Ken Klee lets me into his Brentwood home, where the front gate doesn’t always shut properly – “The guy who made it didn’t do a very good job,” he says – and apologizes that the water he’s offering in a glass is a little cooler than he’d like. The house isn’t far from UCLA Law School, where he’s a professor teaching bankruptcy law, or from the Century City office of Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, where he’s a founding partner. Klee is a respected name in bankruptcy law. He was a principal draftsman of a 1978 overhaul of the U.S. bankruptcy code, and this summer was appointed as the independent examiner of the Tribune Co.’s $12 billion bankruptcy. His August report suggested that two former Tribune executives fraudulently misrepresented whether the company could refinance its debt in order to push through Sam Zell’s 2007 purchase of the company. The findings caused creditors to torpedo the company’s reorganization plan. When he talks about these things, Klee is all business. But ask him about the Acu-Pulsor Spin Tester he keeps in his shirt pocket, the one that he uses as an energy healer to reverse energetic blockages, and his eyes suddenly light up like the microcrystals it purportedly contains. It turns out that Klee has more than a minor interest in energy healing and other New Age medicine – what he calls his “metaphysical hobbies” – that few would expect of a prominent attorney. And he’s not afraid to let the world know.
Question: You are very busy with your teaching and practice. How involved are you in energy healing?
Answer: I set up a 501(c)(3) non-profit healing ministry, Klee Ministry, to do this work. I’ve not taken a penny out of it by the way of compensation for what I do. It is my hobby.
Your patients don’t have to pay?
They make donations if they choose to. I’ve had some choose not to donate anything. Most people donate in the neighborhood of $200. What I do with the money is I buy healing tools.
What kind of tools?
(Moves to healing room.) These Pulsors over here in the corner are very expensive. They look like kids’ toys but this little one is $575.
You also have drawers full of crystals. How many would you say you have?
Over a thousand for sure. I also work with oils, candles and incenses.
So how does it work?
The human being is a multidimensional being. The human body is the end result of a series of other layers of energy that become colder, slower and grosser, and finally take form in the form of the human body. So if you consider a series of Russian dolls, the human body’s the innermost doll. If you access these dimensions, clean them, energize them and fortify them, the human body can subsist on this energy.
You supposedly healed a woman who couldn’t walk, according to a 2004 L.A. Times article.
These subtle bodies that are outside of the body can develop holes. They can leak energy, just like the ooze in “Ghostbusters.” All that was wrong was there was a huge hole in the etheric body above her knee. All I did was go in, clean it up a little bit, put in an energetic bandage, suture it in there, energize it and she could walk. So, from her perspective it was a miracle. From my perspective it was simply detecting and patching a hole in the etheric body. It all depends on your frame of reference.
Don’t you think there’s just some kind of placebo effect at work here?
I would say that it is unfortunate that science hasn’t developed the apparatus to measure the energies that I and others know exist. The question isn’t whether there is a placebo effect, the question is why does it work, and science hasn’t answered that.
How did you get involved in this?
Well, I could tell you this: It’s nothing I ever thought I had a knack for or an interest in. I would have dismissed it as quackery when I was younger. In 1997, at my former firm’s partner retreat, I signed up for something called Reiki massage. This woman came to my room, I was on the couch fully clothed, and she put her hands around my head and body for an hour and never touched me. At the end of the hour I was just in a blissful state, and I couldn’t explain this. This small part of me was curious. So I started studying something called the radiance technique. Then in 1999 I started studying many different things.
Did you settle on one discipline?
No. There are differing amounts of truth in all of them. When it comes, for example, to exorcism, I will draw on many different traditions. I just want to get what works.
Wait. You exorcise people?
Yes. It’s very common for people to have strong negative thought forms that are called demons that can cause them to do things that their rational minds wouldn’t otherwise do. They’re not that difficult to get out. There’s another form of possession, though, that’s more troublesome. That is when people are actually possessed by another spirit or another soul and that can happen to people who have alcohol or drug problems. It can happen to people in accidents and it actually happened to my wife. She doesn’t believe in any of this stuff, but she had a car accident and something came into her body, and after several weeks she finally came to me and I took it out.
Some would consider that kind of wacky.
There are exorcism traditions in many mystical and religious traditions, and if it works, why not use it?
That includes Catholicism?
Of course it does, yes.
Do most of your co-workers, colleagues or students know this side of you?
I would say most of the people don’t. I don’t hide it. Of those who do know, some believe it, some don’t believe it, and I think most probably aren’t too sure.
Have you ever lost a job or an assignment because of this?
People who hire me as an attorney don’t do so with any attention to this, with one exception. (Laughs.) Years ago there was somebody who asked me to stand by to be an expert on alternative healing in a trial. It never went to trial and I don’t remember if I was retained or not.
So no one’s learned about it and said “I don’t want to work with this energy healing guy”?
No one’s ever said that to me or any of my partners.
Has this changed the way you think about the law?
In the area of settlement and reconciling different positions, I’ve gotten a much deeper understanding of harmony and resolving conflict and bringing people together than I did before I started this. Before I started, I was pretty adversarial.
What kind of deeper understanding?
I look at the relationships of the parties and I look at the energy of the relationship and I see the blockages that might be preventing the parties from coming together.
What kind of blockages?
There are circumstances where the parties aren’t primarily looking for monetary compensation in order to vindicate their position. They might want to save face, they might want an apology or they might want to take credit for something. There are nonmonetary ways of providing value that can be important and I think I have an increased capacity and facility to identify those now than I did before I started down this other side.
Did you apply any of this to the Tribune bankruptcy?
I try to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 hours a week doing energetic healing, and maybe another hour every other week teaching a mental yoga class. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for sleep, but that’s OK. That way when I have to take on an assignment like the Tribune and work 18- to 20-plus-hour days, seven days a week for 12 straight weeks, I can do it. These energetic healing techniques actually helped sustain me and some of the others on my team to be able to perform what normally would be at a level most people couldn’t.
You performed healing on your team during the Tribune examination?
I did to those who were willing.
Anything else you can tell us about the case?
It was probably one of the most exciting assignments in my legal career. It was certainly the most intense in terms of time pressure.
Why was that?
The assignment called for a very short investigation. The debtor had a plan that was scheduled for confirmation in August and so I think they were hoping for an examiner’s investigation that would be able to be used by them to ratify and support the settlement.
Instead, your report was seen as a setback for Tribune.
From my perspective, the report is a fair and accurate representation of what happened in 2007.
What was the most surprising thing you found?
When we started this investigation, I think the people on my team thought these were big, sophisticated companies represented by big, sophisticated attorneys and financial officers, and that chances were that this transaction was done with the dotting of the I’s and the crossing of the T’s, and we weren’t going to find anything that was unusual or outside the ordinary. The biggest surprise was to find materially conflicting testimony between senior financial officers of the company on the one hand and representatives of Morgan Stanley on the other.
What did you learn about Sam Zell?
Sam Zell’s a very colorful individual. He uses a lot of euphemisms and idioms in his speech, and at the end of the interview I said to him, “You really ought to think about putting together a book called ‘The Sayings of Chairman Sam.’” He smiled, went out of the room and I’ll show you what he came back with. (Leaves room and comes back with a small book.) He already had this little red book called “Quotations From the Chairman.” He gave me a copy.
Which one’s your favorite?
“If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.” See, I think this is a very profound statement. It recognizes that the universe is in a perpetual state of change and unless you’re adapting to it and anticipating it, you’re actually falling behind. I thought from an energetic level and philosophical level that this was a very deep observation.
Why do you identify with it?
In lawyering, it’s not enough simply to react to what the other side does. The good lawyers are those who anticipate the moves the other side can make and have countermoves already prepared in advance. As the pace of technology has changed, the time available to react has compressed and so the time to think is really a premium.
Is anticipation particularly necessary in bankruptcy law?
Most lawyers are involved with simple A vs. B lawsuits. They might have complex issues in the case, but it’s a bilateral conflict. The bankruptcy world in which I live is a multilateral relationship world where the coalitions can change during the course of the case. Rather than looking backwards at trying to decide who shot John, although that’s what I did in this investigation, most bankruptcy is about looking forward and determining the shape of the reorganized company – how you can capitalize it, who the officers are going to be, what you keep, what you sell.
Do you have an example of a case like that that you have handled?
I was one of the lawyers who represented Pennzoil in the Texaco bankruptcy in 1987 and 1988. It was one of the few times in my legal career that I had not only time to devote exclusive attention to a case, but also ample resources to be able to anticipate anything the other side would do. I had responses fully briefed and ready to go on the shelf.
That doesn’t sound very unusual.
There was a lot at stake. Pennzoil had a $7.35 billion judgment and the lawyers’ fees that were going to be spent paled in comparison to what was at stake in sustaining the judgment. The company was prepared to devote whatever legal resources they needed to prevail. At the end of the case, my law firm gave me a little cube that I have on my desk called “The Oracle” because I was anticipating things that were going to unfold. In those days I had no idea I had any energetic healing or psychic abilities. I just thought that was being smart.
How do you split time between teaching and practicing law?
I’m at UCLA Monday through Thursday and at the law firm on Friday, except in the summer when I’m able to do things like I did this summer (such as the Tribune bankruptcy).
Considering your split schedule and what you call your “metaphysical hobbies,” do you have time for anything else?
My reading has suffered as a result of this. Certainly I don’t go to many movies and I don’t get to sail anymore. I don’t play much bridge, haven’t for years. So I would say that my life is so full that the other hobbies have sort of fallen by the wayside.
And you said your schedule doesn’t leave much time for sleeping.
Actually, I typically get six hours of sleep at night. But sometimes I will work in my sleep. I’ll even solve legal problems or I will get inspiration for healing modalities. Sometimes my hair will stand up, so when I wake up in the morning I’ll have sculptures in my hair. I’m not doing it with my hands, it’s like there’s something working on me from the soul star above.
You solve legal problems in your dreams?
I used to keep a pad by my bed before I knew about any of this. If I had a legal issue I wasn’t sure about or didn’t know the answer to, I would write it down and in the middle of the night, I’d wake up with the answer, write it down on the pad and go back to sleep. If we were in my UCLA office you would see a pillowcase in a frame that five mentors in the bankruptcy field gave me. They couldn’t get over the fact that I was solving problems in my sleep. I didn’t bill for it either.
TITLE: Founding Partner
COMPANY: Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern LLP
BORN: Los Angeles; 1949
EDUCATION: B.A., Stanford; J.D., Harvard Law School
CAREER TURNING POINT: Role as a principal draftsmen of 1978 overhaul of the U.S. bankruptcy code.
MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON: Vern Countryman, a former Harvard Law professor who nurtured his interest in bankruptcy.
PERSONAL: Lives in Brentwood with wife Doreen; has two grown sons.
HOBBIES: Yoga, energy healing, wine tasting.
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