Dianne Feinstein was not a lawyer. But her impact on shaping the federal judiciary, particularly California’s district courts, is unprecedented in the recent history of the Golden State, those who worked on judicial appointments with the Democratic U.S. senator said shortly after her death Friday at age 90.

Feinstein vetted and recommended hundreds of would-be judges during her nearly 31 years in the Senate, juggling the politics and judicial preferences of five presidential administrations and three fellow California senators along the way. Observers credited her with creating a federal bench in California that is more diverse, both in terms of the race, ethnicity and gender of its judges as well as their legal backgrounds.