The right to free counsel in civil cases is widely accepted around the world but not in the United States. In England the right originated over five hundred years ago. Twelve European countries provided the poor with free lawyers even before 1979, when the Council of Europe required its members to do so as a matter of international human rights law. The standards for eligibility and scope of legal services vary, and means and merit tests are common.
Civil Gideon: A Human Right Elsewhere in the World, 40 CLEARINGHOUSE REV. 288