It's one of the very first things that people ask you: "So, what do you do?" My stock answer when I don't think they actually care is to just say "I'm a web developer," or if I want to give a little more detail, "I'm a web developer for a non-profit law firm."
To answer the question the long way, though, I've been working for the past two years as a web developer for the Institute for Justice, the nation's only libertarian public interest law firm. As you would expect from any law firm, we do a lot of actual courtroom litigation -- about half of our staff is comprised of lawyers -- but almost as important is the way we try to work in the "court of public opinion." To that end, IJ has several web sites that I, along with an awesome production/design team, build and maintain in order to get the public's attention and prompt their involvement. Aside from the primary IJ.org site we have the Castle Coalition site, which aims to be a resource for Americans who want to help in the specific area of fighting eminent domain abuse. We also have an online store, the Freedom Market. (Get 15% off with the coupon code D12AUT!)
I've been working in this position for two years now, plus several years before that in an "occasional freelance" capacity. Having worked previously mainly in the advertising sector, I cannot stress enough how great it is working with an organization that is doing something I believe in. If you're unfamiliar with IJ's mission, they fight the governement on the behalf of Americans whose rights are being violated. When we first started up in 1991, that focus was primarily on fighting eminent domain abuse but has since expanded to protecting first amendment speech, economic liberty, and expanding school choice.
I think it's the eminent domain abuse litigation that gets me the most, and it's mainly because so many American's don't even know about it. Most people understand the concept of eminent domain, the provision that allows the government to take your propety with due compensation for the public good. But what a lot of people are shocked to find out when I talk about it is that government has so expanded the definition of "public good" that it can mean almost anything. We're not just talking about building parks, roads, or bridges; The government has successfully used eminent domain in order to take property from individuals and give it to private businesses under the claims that it's for "public good," because that other private entity will generate jobs or higher tax revenue for the city. In practice what this translates to is that the government can, if they want to, force a privately owned mechanic shop off land that they own and give that land to a larger hardware chain, under the guise of "public good."
This isn't all IJ does, however. Another one of my favorite cases to talk about is the issue we fought in Pinal County, Arizona. In 2005, father and son team Dale and Spencer Bell opened up a very successful western style restaurant, San Tan Flat. They commonly had live music out on the patio and their patrons enjoyed dancing to it under the night sky. The county decided at some point that they didn't like San Tan Flat and begain imposing them with daily fines adding up in the amount of over two hundred thousand dollars! Their claim was that they were operating an unlicensed dance hall and, by not preventing their patrons from their unprompted dancing, they were responsible for encouraging it.
Both of these are cases that IJ and their clients successfully fought and won, and that's exactly why I love working with an organization like this: They not only have the intellectual idealism about what government should be, but they put it into practice to make not just national change, but real change that effects individuals like Dale and Spence Bell and Randy Bailey who could not otherwise have afforded to fight the government on these issues.
So that's what I do. If you want the short answer, I'm a web developer. If you want the long answer, I work with public interest law firm that works to keep the government in check and fights every day for our most basic rights. I am IJ.